It's Winter and electricity usage is up as people turn on heaters to keep the chill away. Unfortunately in many areas in South Africa this often results in load shedding or power failures as the demand for electricity outweighs the supply.
It's not fun coming home with a bag full of groceries to cook for supper and WHAM - no power to cook with! The fridge stops working, your food defrosts and spoils and there is no hot water to bath the kids. Misery!
Have a look at the top 10 ways to cope with power failures:
Keep the family calm
Kids are often afraid of the dark and the sudden shock of a power failure can frighten them terribly. Make sure you take control of the situation and then reassure everyone. Remain calm and your family will be too. Do not panic!
If it is night time
It's cold and it's dark - make sure you get blankets together and some form of lighting: a good torch needs to be close at hand and simply turning this on will reassure everyone.
If you have early warning
Load shedding and power outages are often planned and you may get early notice of this. Prepare by charging all your electronic devices (lap top, cell phone) and any other gadgets you might need.
Keep the fridge door closed
Although it might feel like a fridge outside in Winter, keep your fridge door closed as much as possible to prevent your food from defrosting.
Switch off and unplug
Turn off appliances and lights so that the circuits are not overloaded when the power does return. Check that the stove is turned off: you don't want it to be on when the power comes back and you are not there.
Is it just us?
Have a peek outside to see if the power failure is just your house or the entire neighbourhood. You might be able to resolve the problem yourself if the power failure is only affecting your house.
Call the electricity department
You can use your landline or cell phone to call the local electricity department to get a status update or to report the problem. Keep the number somewhere accessible for when you need it.
How will you know when the power is back on?
Leave a TV, radio or light on so that when the power is restored you will know about it.
Have a backup available
Have you ever been camping before? Have an alternative for everything: lighting, cooking and heating. Be cautious when using gas appliances and paraffin stoves or heaters. Battery powered camping lanterns are an excellent idea.
Cook food that perishes
If the power failure is predicted to last for many hours or even days, cook any perishable food you have in the fridge or freezer so that these don't go to waste. Most importantly of all, remain calm and be patient. Power outages are unfortunately a fact of life. Try and make it fun for the family and think of meals as romantic candlelit dinners!
Do you have any other tips to share?
Please share your advice by commenting below and let us know how you cope with power failures.