Load-shedding: Tips to survive the torture

Isabella Colatruglio

It is 8 pm on a bitterly cold winter’s night, yet the sky is clear and in the obscure darkness, the ether is like a planetarium in your own back garden. It has the beauty and stillness of the night sky in the middle of the remote and desolate Karoo – but it’s not the Karoo… it is a busy, bustling, urban city in what should be a relatively developed region of South Africa.

Eskom has plunged us into the darkness… again! At this point, none of us should be surprised, but, when our dear South Africa is transformed into a medieval village for 2.5 to 4.5 hours, depending on the stage, we still get the “This is unbelievable! How am I supposed to make supper now!” statements.

Luckily, along with a few rather pathetic excuses, Eskom does pen us a few helpful tips on how to survive the “dark ages”, including fixing up supper without the aid of electricity.

1) Plan ahead by checking the schedule. As South Africans, we know that most things controlled by the government are pretty erratic. Services such as Home Affairs are delayed in starting, frequently punctuated by “tea” breaks and usually on the dot when closing time is concerned. Similarly, the load-shedding schedule is prone to changing before the screen has time to refresh.

Luckily, the Eskom load-shedding app, “EskomSePush” is a reliable and frequently updated source where the schedule can be obtained. It features outage timetables for the various zones, news, and tips as well as a helpful “AskMyStreet” function where users can connect with fellow load-shedding victims.

2) Keep devices charged. Is it not utterly exasperating when you are going about your daily life accompanied by the comfort of electricity when suddenly everything goes black? The only thing worse than having nyctophobia in South Africa is the sudden, paralysing fear that stems from the realisation that you did not charge your phone…

Along with keeping devices charged, it is worth mentioning that saving any digital work frequently is a splendid idea. It is devastating to lose hours’ worth of work at the flick of a switch all the way in the Eskom head office.

3) Prepare to be left without many basic services. For some pitiful souls, no electricity also means no water… added to that, if you forgot to check your fuel tank, you might also be left without a means of transport since not all filling stations are in operation when there is no electricity. Eskom advises keeping rechargeable lamps and candles where they can easily be found, keeping a supply of water available, making sure vehicles have fuel and having cash on hand since not all ATMs function without power.

So far, we have been subjected to 1614 hours of national load-shedding this year. In 2021, South Africa experienced 1169 hours with the intensity from 2020 to 2021 increasing by 40%. The power situation in South Africa is not looking good, but we, as South Africans, can also do our best to lighten the load and lessen the load-shedding…

Set the geyser thermostat lower and make sure that all the hot water pipes are well insulated, use energy-efficient lightbulbs and appliances and do not use unnecessary power. These lifestyle changes may seem meaningless, but if everyone works together, we just might be able to transform our country back into a prosperous and electric nation.