Surviving load shedding as a small business: 13 top tips

Surviving load shedding as a small business: 13 top tips

As a business owner, it’s your number one priority to keep the lights on, so to speak. With more frequent load shedding, it becomes increasingly difficult to manage your productivity, serve your customers professionally and safeguard your property and equipment. The best way forward is to plan as much as possible.

We’ve put together an updated survival guide to help small businesses protect their livelihoods.

  1. Check security back-ups: Ensure proper access control by checking that your alarm system is in a working condition and the back-up battery is fully functional to provide power to the system in the event of load shedding. You may also need a back-up power supply should your electronic gates not function without power.
  2. Be savvy with cash: Unfortunately, opportunistic criminals keep abreast of load shedding schedules too, therefore keep as little cash as possible on your premises and implement extra security measures during these times. For example, if security scanners are not working, you may need more security staff to keep an eye out for shoplifting.
  3. Invest in extra lighting: If you have to lock up in the dark, keep a torch or headlamp handy or use your smartphone torch. You may want to install additional solar security lighting if your business operates in the evening or if you feel this would provide added security to your staff.  
  4. Keep everything charged at all times: Ensure your cellphone, laptop and tablet devices are fully charged ahead of scheduled blackouts. Be sure to charge them again as soon as possible after the power returns. It's also a good idea to have an emergency phone charger or power bank close by. Here are some more ideas on charging your phone without electricity.
  5. Know your schedule: Make a note of the latest load shedding schedules for your area (e.g. by following a local Facebook or neighbourhood watch group) or use a load shedding app. This way you can notify customers, watch out for stock spoiling and boost your security if necessary.
  6. Stay connected to the internet: It’s a great way to keep in touch with what's happening as well as for regular updates so ensure that your mobile data stays topped up. Remember to use devices sparingly during outages so that you don't drain the battery completely before the power returns. If your work is computer-based, find out which restaurants offer free Wi-Fi to help you stay online. A dedicated inverter / UPS for a computer and internet modem is also very effective and provides at least four hours or more additional usage time, depending on the strength of the inverter.
  7. Know your emergency contacts: Save emergency contact information on your phone but also keep a printed copy safe and accessible. This should include emergency services such as the fire department, police and medical services.
  8. Are your phones working? Remember that telephone systems like ISDN and portable phones might not work during a power outage. Double-check that your alarm is not just communicating through your phone -  always have both a telephone and radio communication set up.
  9. Dealing with stock spoiling: Frozen bottled water will help keep food cold during a power outage. Always leave your freezer and refrigerator doors closed to preserve the cold temperature inside. A full freezer should keep food safe for up to two days and a refrigerator for 4-6 hours.
  10. Unplug your cables: Consider any electrical connection as live during a power outage as power can return at any time. Unplug any electronic devices or equipment or switch it off at the wall. This is due to the surges in power that may occur when electricity is restored.
  11. Back up your data: If you save important data on our home computer, consider backing it up over the internet in case of a hard drive crash or unforeseen electrical fault. Online cloud-based backups are very convenient and are mostly automated, which means that you have one less thing to worry about.
  12. Surge protection: Electric surges are one of the biggest causes of damage to equipment during a power outage. Installing a surge protection device can help minimise some damage in unforeseen situations. Have a surge protection device fitted to your electrical distribution board or alternatively at the power outlet to the electronic device.
  13. Prioritise your day: In the end, you can only do what you can and you might have to learn to live with power outages. Use downtime to catch up on emails, schedule new business meetings or make some sales calls.

How Santam can help during load shedding

We know that this can be a frustrating time for business owners so we want to do everything in our power to safeguard your belongings. Speak to your broker for advice on the right insurance cover to safeguard your business. You can also get some ideas here on the type of generator to buy, should you decide to go that route.

If you’d like more information about protecting your business premises, visit our business advice page or call us directly on 0860 444 444.

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