South Africans have by now become used to checking load shedding schedules on a daily basis, and planning their activities around these. However, a recent consumer survey has revealed that many households are not taking adequate steps to minimise damage and loss during load shedding.
A client survey by Santam – South Africa’s leading short-term insurer – showed most respondents (63%) do not switch off their appliances before load shedding to prevent power surge damage to them when the power comes on again. Almost a third of respondents said that their appliances had been damaged as a result of load shedding. Only 21% make use of generators, but of these, a full 30% are not sure that their generators are SABS certified and properly connected.
Many South Africans make use of alternative light sources that are potentially a fire risk – 65% of the survey respondents used candles, 24% used gas lamps and 18% made use of paraffin lamps.
“Load shedding results in increased risk of damage to sensitive electronic items as well as fires. Opportunistic crime as a result of security systems not operating properly has also increased,” says Marius Neethling, Personal Lines Underwriting Manager at Santam. He urged households to take extra precautions to manage their risk and protect against losses resulting from load shedding.
“The survey revealed that whereas many people have alarms that work with batteries, many do not and live with the hope that nothing serious will happen while they are in the vulnerable state of not having electricity. People also often do not test the batteries of their alarm systems regularly to see that they are functioning properly.”
Neethling provides the following tips to minimise damage and loss during load shedding:
- Arriving or leaving home: Ensure that you are especially alert when arriving or leaving your home after dark, as the street lights and your outside lighting may not be functioning.
- Automated gates and garage doors: Ensure that you have alternative ways to enter and exit your home if your electric security gates and garage door are not functioning due to load shedding. Keep the keys to the gate motors in an accessible place.
- Alternative light sources: Invest in solar, camping, battery operated or LED lights, which are much safer than candles or paraffin lamps.
- Generators: Make sure your generator is professionally installed, and never store more than 20 litres of fuel in your house. Test your generator frequently, and remember to have a fire extinguisher of at least 4.5kg on site.
- Surge protection: You can buy a surge protector for your electric mains board, as well as surge protector plug adaptors, at most leading hardware stores. Surge protectors should be installed by a certified electrician.
- Electric fencing: Your electric fence should have a back-up battery, which needs to be tested regularly and replaced if needed.
- Contact your security company: If you feel unsafe at any time during a power failure, contact your security company by contacting the control room emergency number.
“Santam remains ready to assist policyholders with any claims resulting from power cuts. For example, if additional cover is taken out, we will protect household contents against power surges,” says Neethling.
“Load shedding has become part of our daily lives. Most of the respondents said it made them feel ‘frustrated, angry, irritated and annoyed’, but the unfortunate reality is that it is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. To prevent unforeseen damage and losses, we urge households to revisit their insurance cover and obtain advice from their brokers to take into account different circumstances and risk situations which may arise as a result of power cuts,” Neethling concludes.
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