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The fun – and serious – sides of surviving load shedding

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While load shedding is a thorn in everyone’s side, the only thing to do is “roll with the punches”

South Africa has been experiencing an energy crisis for over a decade and, as a result, load shedding has become the norm.

We are now planning everyday tasks around our individual schedules, so that we’re not left in the dark when the electricity goes off, says Mike Greeff, chief executive of Greeff Christie’s International Real Estate.

While load shedding is a thorn in everyone’s side, the only thing to do is “roll with the punches” and the best way to do that is to stay prepared.

Apart from the obvious, like ensuring your phone is charged and that all the light switches are off, he offers a few tips to survive these dark days:

Download ESP – EskomSePush: This load shedding app is a must. You can choose as many areas as you like and get the appropriate schedule for each area.

It also provides notifications and alerts, so you’re kept abreast of any changes between the stages and if load shedding has been suspended.

Make sure your appliances are protected: During load shedding, there is no current running through the wires to power your appliances which means when the power comes back, there is a sudden surge of electricity which can cause the cables to burn.

Having these surges occur on a regular basis will eventually cause damage, if your cables are not properly protected. It is recommended you get a surge-protected unit to avoid having to replace electronics.

Non-electrical cooking: It’s not ideal to have the power go off just as you start to prepare dinner. Avoid hungry tummies by investing in “alternative’’ cooking methods. Gas stoves are an obvious solution but don’t forget the trusty braai.

Stay alert: If your home has an electrically operated gate, garage door or alarm system, ensure that you have back-up batteries that are in good working condition.

If your alarm system cannot use back-up batteries, it is best to keep all access windows and doors well lit.

Stay lit: Rechargeable LED lights are a must-have during these rolling blackouts. They are not as bright as other lights but they are bright enough to light up the room for homework and household activities. They also come in handy when trying to find your way around.

Candles are an alternative but, if you are taking safety into account, it is best to go with LED lighting.

Greeff also offers a quick list of fun things to do when the lights are out:

Try your hand at yoga: Practise a few relaxing moves and feel the stress of load shedding melt away.

Whip out those board games: Nothing passes the time like a good game of Scrabble or Monopoly.

Family night out: Although there’s plenty to do at home when the lights go out, if you’d rather be out and about, treat your family to a night on the town.

Braai: There is nothing South Africans love more than a good braai, so toss a few steaks or veggies on the grill, light the fire, invite a few mates over and you’ve got yourself a party.

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