Protect yourself & your appliances

Whether it’s from load-shedding or because the power goes down during a storm, there are inevitably going to be periods when you may not have electricity to keep your appliances running as they should do.

Power surges that occur when the power is reconnected are also a risk. A 2022 survey conducted by InfoQuest/TrendER, a South African online research company, found that almost 60% of respondents had at least one of their home appliances damaged or destroyed due to power surges as a result of load-shedding, and one in two had lost the contents of their fridge at least once.

Steps to take to protect your appliances include:

· Disconnect and unplug appliances and devices from mains power during power cuts. Often when power comes back it may only be for one or two phases, so wait for the power supply to stabilise and the flickering of lights to stop before plugging things in again. This also puts less pressure on the power grid when power is restored – additional immediate demand from electrical infrastructure like transformers and mini-substations may cause further electrical faults and more prolonged power outages;

· Install DB board surge protectors;

· Replace standard plugs with surge-protecting variants.

To protect your perishable foodstuffs:

· Keep the door closed! Opening the fridge and / or freezer compromises the coldness that keeps your food fresh. Take what you need out beforehand when you know load-shedding is going to occur, and keep items such as butter, salad, milk etc you’ll want to use in a cooler box with frozen freezer blocks. Put them back in the fridge when the power returns.

· Fill 2-litre cold drink bottles with water and freeze them. Put them in the fridge just before load-shedding starts – they will make a dramatic difference in keeping the fridge cool for the hours that the power is off.

· Insulate your fridge / freezer / cooler box with towels or blankets – no seal is 100% airtight. It is vital to ensure that the air vents at the back of the appliance are not covered.

Other issues:

If you use a pump and water tank (Jojo), keep it filled with a short period of pumping at regular intervals when the power is on. Set up a float system so that you can visually determine your tank’s water level.

Security systems such as alarms, electric gates and fences will not operate after extended periods without power, so be ultra-vigilant as criminals are using the darkness to their benefit. Getting an inverter or generator will help ensure your security system is active during outages. When using a generator, ensure that it is kept somewhere that it cannot be stolen! Installing solar lights or getting LED rechargeable light bulbs and rechargeable torches will ensure you keep the lights on during power outages.

Long-term options:

Some banks are assisting homeowners in getting ‘off the grid’ by partnering with professional firms to provide various financing solutions. Ask your bank for details.