31 ways you can make load-shedding easier on your family
Load-shedding and power outages are becoming part of our lives now. Read our useful tips to minimise inconvenience.
Prep your family so you can continue uninterrupted during load-shedding. (iStock)
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Updated: 18 March 2019.

Failing Eskom and its resulting power outages have been called a "national crisis". How soon our power supply will become stable again we don't know, but at least we know we should brace ourselves and get prepared, right?

Find your load-shedding schedules on Fin24. 

In case you like checklists or you forgot your Scouts training, here we present some tips to lessen the blow of load-shedding for your family.

1. Preparing for an unexpected power outage:

  • Ensure that your cell phone is always fully charged when power is available, and get a power bank as back-up (remember to keep it charged). If you need to get some work done, charge your laptop battery too.
  • Try to keep some fuel in the car's tank since during power outages, petrol stations cannot pump fuel.
  • Ensure that you have adequate cash as auto tellers cannot operate without electricity.
  • Keep temporary lighting, such as candles and electric torches, readily available.
  • Keep a torch (with fresh batteries) by your bedside at all times, since your cellphone battery may run flat.
  • Obtain a small LP gas lamp, as they provide good quality lighting for a large area.
  • An LED battery-operated night light will provide a warm, comforting glow in your child's room.
  • Obtain a stand-by bottled LP gas heating ring for essential cooking and to boil water for hot beverages.
  • Get some sterilising liquid or tablets or have a gas stove and pot to hand so you can sterilise your baby's bottles.
  • Keep adequate stocks of essential foodstuffs and snacks that do not need to be refrigerated.
  • Place plastic containers with water in your freezer or freezer compartment. This frozen water will act like ice bricks to help keep food cold during a power outage. It also helps your fridge to save electricity otherwise. When you fill the bottles or tubs with water, leave some space so the water can expand.
  • Most medication requiring refrigeration can be kept in a closed fridge for several hours without spoiling. To be sure about this, check with your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Regularly check your alarm system's battery. During outages, the battery may die and it won't be active in the dark. 

2. Just before scheduled load-shedding:

  • Release automatic electric garage door mechanisms to allow you to gain access to your property during a power outage.
  • Release electric security gates and switch to manual operation to avoid either being locked out or locked into your home.
  • Boil water and keep in hot water flasks for hot drinks.
  • Use a thermal cover on tea pots and other pots and pans to keep hot drinks, soup and other hot meals warm.
  • Prepare meals beforehand so your kids won't have to eat peanut butter sandwiches for dinner (again).
  • Homework by candlelight can be potentially hazardous, so make sure you have a bright gas or LED lamp ready.
  • Buy glow-in-the-dark stickers and allow your children to decorate their rooms. Little stars or planets on the ceiling will brighten their night!

WARNING!
  • Teach your children about fire safety! Keep candles in safe containers out of reach, and don't leave them on overnight.
  • Always ensure there are no gas leaks (ask an expert to install your gas if you're not 100% confident) and switch all gas appliances off the moment you're done with them. 
  • Remind your neighbours of the same.
  • Have a fire extinguisher on hand.

3. During a power outage:

  • Switch it off! If the power goes off, it is safer to turn off or disconnect any electrical appliances that you were using, since a power surge may occur when the electricity is restored.
  • It is always useful to keep one light switched 'on' to alert you when the power returns.
  • Keep refrigerator doors closed. This will keep your food colder for longer. A power outage of up to 4 hours should not cause food spoilage, and a freezer should keep frozen food safe for at least a day. 
  • Do not burn refuse, unwanted furniture, copper wire or any other materials to cook or for heat. This emits toxic fumes.
  • If you arrive home in the dark, and you have armed response service, check if they will wait for you at your house and accompany you into your home.
  • Have old-fashioned fun with the kids with games, or listen to a podcast or audio book that you downloaded before.
  • Go outside in the dark and gaze at the stars.

Sources: http://www.capetown.gov.za, PowerAlert

Chat back:

How do you prepare your family and home for load-shedding? What does your family eat when the power goes out? What about homework? Your baby? Tell us and share your tips and we may publish them.

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