How to be prepared when the lights go out

With loadshedding happening in Cape Town, I thought I would share a few tips on what to do when the lights go out.


  1. Purchase a quiet generator. A generator is a great idea, especially in a short term outage. They can supply enough power to operate some appliances, your lights, etc. Some are noisier than others, so be careful to choose wisely.
  2. Purchase light producing objects. Gather all the things that may provide light, such as a flashlight, candles, glowsticks, etc., and place them in an easily accessible area.
  3. Attach iridescent or glow in the dark stickers on flashlights so that they can be easily located in little or no light.
  4. Keep glowsticks in the freezer. The cool temperature in your freezer will slow the rate of reaction in the glowstick and make it last for 4-5 days instead of one or two.
  5. Stick candles in pots that are deeper than the candle is long. That way, the light will reflect off of the side of the pot, creating more light, and will lessen the likelihood of a fire.
  6. Keep a first aid kit handy. You never know what emergency might happen while the lights are out, so it’s wise to stay prepared with a few days’ worth of medication. Your first aid kit should include bandages (various sizes), gauze, tape, scissors, antiseptic solution such as hydrogen peroxide, antibiotic ointment and pain medicine. You can buy first aid kits at various pharmacies or assemble your own.
  7. Keep a stash of batteries. Make an inventory of the different kinds of batteries your electronics use instead of assuming they all run on double-A or triple-A. Buy batteries in bulk — more than you think you’ll need — so that you’ll have a good amount in case of a prolonged outage.
  8. Go online. If you can, visit http://loadshedding.eskom.co.za to find out how long the expected outage will be.
  9. Purchase and use self-powered radios and self-powered flashlights. Self-powered radios and flashlights employ a hand crank to get the device going, so it’s a good alternative to have if you happen to run out of batteries. Radios will help you stay informed of what’s happening. Radios will also be a good distraction.
  10. Have car chargers for your cell phone. So the electricity won’t work, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use your car as one big battery. Be careful not to kill your car battery when you’re charging your phone. Not being able to start your car is probably more problematic than not being able to start your cell phone.
  11. Purchase a gas camping stove. If your kitchen stove is all electric, it obviously won’t work during a power outage and you’ll have to rely on another means of cooking.
  12. Get some engaging, non-electronic games. Believe it or not, people used to live without the internet. Having a ready supply of tried and true board or card games to play with your family is a great way of relieving boredom and staying optimistic in the event of a power outage. Have a couple decks of playing cards. Some card games require more than a deck of cards and often individual cards simply get lost. If you or your family are brave, you might even consider singing, dancing, or storytelling together instead of games.
  13. Use a landline telephone instead of your cell phone. If you have a landline you are most likely will not lose your phone service. Cellphone towers can freeze in a power outage, wireless home phones and home phones that require a modem to run may not work in power outages.

And… if you don’t have a battery clock that works, then you will most likely will have to wake up with the sun and go to bed with the sun.

Enjoy getting creative! Tell us what you do.

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