Capacity shortages have seen Eskom reimplement load shedding, leaving many South Africans in the dark on how to protect themselves.
“Besides the total inconvenience - when the power goes out, your alarm, electric fences and motorised gates go with it, leaving you and your home in a vulnerable position,” explains Maanda Tshifularo, Head of Dialdirect Insurance.
“Most insurance policies stipulate in their contracts that the house alarm must be activated at all times when the home is unoccupied. So, if your house is burgled during a power cut, then, theoretically, your theft-related cover would be moot.”
These are easy to implement tips for those looking to ensure their safety when the lights go out:
Get a few high-wattage solar powered lights for your garden, and a few LED lights for inside. Light is a deterrent to would-be burglars.
Keep your cell phone charged, or invest in a portable phone charger, so that you can still call for help if you need to. Remember that the Namola emergency app, which has been downloaded more than 250 000 times and is free to all South Africans, can connect you with help – and share your location – in an instant.
If you need to manually open and close your gates when you get home, try to have someone come and meet you at your entrance, or arrange for an escort from your security company.
Use padlocks, burglar bars and deadbolts to provide an extra level of home security that isn’t power-dependent.
Put the proposed load shedding times somewhere handy so that your family will have enough time to prepare for the power outage.
Alarm systems, garage doors and electric gates generally rely on electricity so make sure that these items all have good back-up batteries.
Keep a torch or a solar, battery powered light that is charged beforehand in multiple, easily accessible locations around your home. Be sure to also have plenty of spare batteries.
Your fridge and freezer supplies should be okay without power over night if you do not open and close it repeatedly. If you’re worried about certain food items, prepare an ice-box for these.
If possible, invest in a backup power supply for your house – be it a generator, battery system, solar panels or a combination of these – to keep essential lights, appliances, electric gates and security systems running.
There are also less direct, but equally dangerous consequences of load shedding such as street lights and traffic lights being down at night. This places a greater burden on motorists driving home through load-shedded areas in the dark.
Motorists are encouraged to drive cautiously at all times, but especially so in these poorly illuminated areas. Treat all inoperative traffic lights as a four-way stop, and when in doubt, yield to oncoming traffic from the right. Do not assume that all other drivers will stop so exercise extreme vigilance and drive defensively.