Electricity Outages: How To Be Prepared

Updated: Aug 4, 2019

Let us face it, in South Africa we are quite used to navigating the load shedding schedules but every so often, those of us that do not have our own backup power generators or solar systems may get surprised by a sudden unannounced blackout that leaves us without electricity for a few hours or even a few days. Cable theft, a burnt out transformer or an overload at the power station are just some of the factors that may cause this unwelcome inconvenience. Fact remains, if the power is off for a few minutes or for days on end, the inconvenience is not only an irritating matter but in some instances may even be life threatening if one is not prepared for the worst.

Today, I will be sharing some tips to reduce the levels of inconvenience of such outages, should you not be in the position to have your own alternate power solutions in place to avoid these inconveniences completely. However, before getting to the tips, it is most important to remember to always report unscheduled power outages to your local municipality in case the outage was merely caused by a trip at the power station and could be restored very quickly. You should never assume that a failure is load shedding or if it was serious that someone else would report it. Ensure that the municipality is fully aware of the outage that occurred and sometimes your report could indicate the wider extent of the outage to them.

Here are 10 tips to prepare for power outages:

Protect your electronics and appliances.

If you are lucky enough to know when to expect a scheduled power outage, be sure to switch off and unplug all electronic devices and appliances in preparation. There is often a surge in the electricity when the power is returned, which can damage laptops, TV's, refrigerators and more. By ensuring they are turned off prior to the outage, you can save quite a lot of money and inconvenience.

Make sure you are able to communicate

Communication may be critical during times of outages, especially in the event of an emergency or crime occuring. Keep you mobile phones, laptops and tablets that they have the ability to connect via mobile data fully charged in case of a power outage to ensure you have ways to communicate in some form or another. Even charge extra battery packs and keep them handy, just in case the electricity remains out for an extended period.


You may think that water is unaffected by power outages, but extended outages may leave your municipality without the ability to pump water to where it is needed and water towers can run dry quite quickly. Always ensure you have water available for yourself, your kids and pets. It is recommended to have 5 liters available per person per day for each day you expect the power outage to last. Plan to have water available to wash your face, brush your teeth, wash your dishes and flush your toilet.

Although our municipalities often supply water in mobile tankers when there is a serious problem, you have no guarantee that you will be able to get all the water you need from the truck.

Non-perishable food and an opener

Stock up on non-perishable foods AND an old-fashioned tin opener! Refrigerated food may last as long as 48 hours if you manage to keep the refrigerator doors closed most of the time.

It may be wise to stock up on food that do not require refrigeration or even cooking if you do not have a gas stove.

Coolers and ice

To prolong the life of your refrigerated food, you could consider to acquire inexpensive polystyrene cooler boxes and ice. This can help for as long as ice can be obtained closeby :). This little trick will certainly stretch the lifetime of the food in your refrigerator for an extra day at least.

Have spare diesel / petrol / gas at hand

Bear in mind that not all petrol stations are able to fill up your car when the power is out. Never letting your vehicle run below half a tank of fuel or otherwise having an extra container of fuel for your vehicle, as well as an extra gas bottle for cooking purposes will go a long way to have you prepared for an extended outage. You can not assume the power will not be off for long. Be prepared.

Stock up on LED flashlights and keep them charged

Candles often sell out as soon as a blackout hits! It is best to keep LED flashlights handy as they pose less of a fire hazard than candles and use very little energy to create light. Stash a few flashlights away in easy to reach spots throughout the house to enable you to grab one as soon as the power outage hits, but bear in mind that this is only a solution if you remember to charge them regularly.


ATMs do not necessarily work during power outages, therefore, keep some cash on hand for emergency payments, preferably in a safe.

Security and safety

Be sure to have backup batteries in working condition for electrically operated security gates, alarm systems and garage doors. Store temporary lighting such as battery-powered torches, gas lamps and candles in places where they will be easy to find in the dark

Back-up for medical emergencies

In case you have a loved one at your home that is dependent on electricity for a medical device to operate, you should discuss a back-up plan with your medical practitioner.  Discuss these matters beforehand to minimize stress during a power outage.


We are all hoping that South Africa's electricity crisis will be resolved rather sooner than later, but only hoping without preparing and taking action may still leave you in the dark. So until then, ensure your preparations are adequate to reduce the inconvenience and less stressful ...in the dark. :)

Feel free to call ALTA NEL , 071 758 0996 for assistance and property advice in Centurion.

You may also send an email to: alta.nel@seeff.com.

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