With the ongoing reality of load shedding here in South Africa, our homes and businesses are constantly exposed to potential risk of damage to electronic equipment and compromised security systems.
Taking proactive measures to help mitigate these risks will ensure that you are prepared for any eventuality and inconvenience associated with both scheduled and unplanned electricity outages.
Here are twelve tips to help you home against potential load shedding risks, without the need of a generator or solar panels.
- Know your schedule: Make sure that you keep track of any scheduled outages in your area by downloading a reputable Eskom load shedding app on your smartphone. Alternatively, ask to be added to a group of friends who can keep one another updated on planned load shedding schedules.
- Be security savvy: The sad reality is that criminals also study load shedding schedules to identify which areas will be vulnerable at specific times. Tripped and false alarms are great opportunities for opportunistic burglars. Be extra vigilant about access to your home and securing your perimeter.
- Get back-up batteries for your alarm and gate system: Ensure 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. Similarly, check that your garage door motor or electronic gate can function without power.
- Make sure you have sufficient back-up lighting: Keep a torch or headlamp in your car if you arrive home at night during a power outage. Most smartphones have built-in torches or torch apps which come in handy during unexpected power outages - which bring us to the next point...
- Always stay charged: 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 and power bank close by. This comes in handy during extended power outages.
- Plan to stay connected: Staying connected to the internet is 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.
- Don’t forget the benefits of gas: Invest in a small gas bottle and lamp to for cooking and lighting. A gas lamp provides good quality lighting for a large area and a gas cooker can be a life saver during electricity cuts. It's a good idea to keep hot water in a thermal flask so that you can make hot drinks. Prepare meals beforehand if you know there's going to be a scheduled blackout during meal times.
- Stock up on bottled water and pop some in the freezer: Some households depend on electric pumps for their water supply, especially in rural areas. Frozen bottled water will help keep food cold during a power outage and will also not spoil. Having a few extra bottles handy will ensure you won’t run out during outages.
- Keep the cold in: Leave your freezer and refrigerator doors closed as much as possible to preserve the temperatures inside. Did you know that a fully stocked freezer should keep food safe for up to two days and a refrigerator for four to six hours?
- Unplug your cables as soon as the power goes out: 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, including fixed telephone cables. This will help prevent damage or injury due to surges that may occur when electricity is restored.
- 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.
- Know your emergency contacts: Save emergency contact information on your phone but also keep a printed copy close by. This should include emergency services such as the fire department, police and medical services. Also include contact information of friends and family along with your insurance information.
Planning for electric surges
Electric surges are one of the biggest causes of damage to your household 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 at the power outlets to electronic devices. Contact a profession electrical contractor to discuss the process and costs involved.
How Santam can help during load shedding
We know that load shedding is frustrating and inconvenient and want to do everything in our power to safeguard your home and your belongings. Consult with your broker or contact Santam Direct to find out if you require any additional cover to protect you against the associated risk of power outages.
As a Santam policyholder, you can opt for Accidental Damage cover, which covers damage caused by power surges. Santam's personal house contents section further provides cover for deterioration of contents of refrigerators in the event that load shedding exceeds 24 hours.
You can also protect fixed machinery from power surges by increasing the limited cover provided. By taking out additional power surge cover under your building insurance, this will provide peace of mind that fixed machinery – such as swimming pools, Jacuzzis, boreholes, sprinkler irrigation systems and electric gates – will be covered in the event of power surge damage.
We encourage you to use this opportunity to review your household insurance policy to ensure that you are sufficiently protected against these eventualities. If you have any questions about your existing insurance cover, speak to your broker or call Santam Direct on 0860 444 444.