With ongoing load shedding, it’s never too late for South Africans to take the necessary precautions to protect their property from damage. Marius Steyn, Personal Lines Underwriting Manager for Santam agrees that South Africans need to mitigate the damages caused by load shedding by being prepared before the power goes off.
“The reality is, load shedding has an immense impact on consumers and businesses alike – who must cope with the damage to appliances brought on by power surges or risk loss through theft, burglary as a result of faulty security systems,” said Steyn.
Steyn cautions consumers and provides things to consider mitigating risks that may be caused by power cuts:
1. Ensure that your alarm system is in working condition and the back-up battery is fully functional to provide power to the system in the event of load shedding.
2. Spare torch or headlamp: Keep a torch in your car for when you arrive home at night during a power outage. Most smartphones also have a built-in torch or torch apps which come in handy during unexpected power outages.
3. Emergency contact information: Save emergency contact information on your phone but also keep a paper copy safe and accessible. This should include the emergency services such as the fire department, police, and medical services. Also include contact information of friends and family along with insurance information.
4. Charge your cellphone, laptop, and tablet: Ensure your cellphone, laptop, and tablet devices are fully charged ahead of scheduled blackouts. Be sure to charge them again as soon as possible after the power returns. It’s also a good idea to have an emergency phone charger (like a power bank) close by, as this comes in handy during extended power outages. The internet is a great way to keep in touch with what’s happening as well as for regular updates, remember to use devices sparingly during outages so that you don’t drain the battery completely before the power returns.
5. Gas for cooking and lighting: Get a small LP gas bottle and lamp. It gives good quality lighting for a large area and can also be used for cooking and boiling water. It’s a good idea to keep hot water in a thermal flask so that you can make hot drinks. Consider preparing meals beforehand if you know when there’s going to be a scheduled blackout.
6. Keep bottled water: Keeping emergency water stored is easy when frozen. This frozen bottled water will help keep food cold during a power outage and will also not spoil.
7. Unplug your cables: Consider any electrical connection as live during a power outage as power can return at any time. Unplug any electronic devices or equipment or switch it off at the wall, including telephone cables. This is due to the surges in power that may occur when electricity is restored.
8. Make use of surge protection: Electric surges are one of the biggest causes of damage to equipment during a power outage. Installing a surge protection device can help minimise some damage in unforeseen situations. Have a surge protection device fitted to your electrical distribution board or at the power outlet to the electronic device.
9. Back-up your data: It is always important to back-up data, so make it a priority to save your data offsite, in case of a hard drive crash or unforeseen electrical fault. Online “cloud-based” back-ups are very convenient and are mostly automated, which means that you have one less thing to worry about.