Let's be honest, when we hear them announce that we'll be going through load shedding stage 4, most of us are not too sure what that even means. So, to help you better understand the stages, we've listed them here. If you know what they mean, great! Just skip this and carry on with the rest of your load shedding prep below.
Four schedules have been formed, based on the level of risk and to ensure that load shedding shared and done in a fair manner:
There are a handful of load shedding apps out there, but what we have noticed that not many of them are accurate. So far, the one that seems to be hitting the nail right on the head regarding load shedding schedules is Load Shedding Notifier. It's rather simple - just download it (Google Play), add and set various zones that will be affecting you (home, work, other family households, etc) and you're ready to be notified. There's also the Eskom Se Push app if you're looking to use and compare multiple schedule sources. Another great way to keep on top of the load shedding schedule is joining community Facebook pages if your suburb has one.
Since you have downloaded a load shedding app, you'll now know when to expect your next black out. With this is mind, make sure that you fully charge all of your devices - laptops, tablets, phones, Kindles, everything that can be charged - before the set times of your zone load shedding. That way, you don't need to worry about flat batteries and being bored while you wait for the hours of darkness to pass.
Own your own property? Don't live in an apartment or flat? Then why not consider investing in a generator? Yes, they're noisy. Yes, they'll cost a some moola to run (most use petrol). And yes, they do cost a pretty penny (easily between R2 000 - R10 000 depending on size, wattage and fuel tank capacity) BUT at least you won't be sitting in the dark and you'll have a power source than can be used for many years to come. Most home and hardware outlets will stock generators, so make sure you head to Builders, Game, Leroy Merlin and Takealot. Don't forget to pick up a few extension leads and adapters to "share the love". Another source of power that's more environmentally friendly than the generators is solar power. This seems to be becoming more popular in recent times.
Tip: Keep a few Jerry Cans filled with "liquid gold" stored in the garage. Generators can guzzle through litres of petrol depending on how much power you use, so be sure to have some extra on standby.
If you cannot get a generator or simply just don't want to spend a small fortune, there's always the old-fashioned candles, flashlights and lanterns. Just don't forget to get matches, a lighter or batteries while you're at it or else this option is just not going to work! Candles, flashlights, batteries and lighters/matches can be bought practically anywhere - Checkers, Spar, Game, Shoprite, Pick n Pay - but as for the lanterns and light adapters, you can find them at any outdoor or hardware outlets. Also, it wouldn't hurt to install a few solar outdoor lights to light up your garden a little bit (just as an added safety measure).
There's nothing more frustrating than not being able to get dinner on the table due to load shedding. No power, no microwave, no stove, no kettle, nothing. But there is an alternative - gas stoves. Just like a generator, this option doesn't come cheap, but it's a good investment. A little too expensive? Then why not buy a portable stove top that you can connect to the generator? Again, check out Builders, Game, Leroy Merlin and Takealot for those stove tops. Have neither? Not to worry! You can always grab some charcoal, fire up the braai and tuck into some braaivleis. Or even make a potjie. Also important: if you get a gas stove, don't forget to get a stove top kettle, that's a lifesaver!
Since we are in the day and age where we use our cell phones for absolutely everything - alarm clocks, contacting people, checking load shedding schedules, ordering takeout, entertainment purposes, GPS, the flashlight function, etc - it's essential that its battery life lasts. To ensure it does, get your hands on a power bank, charge it and have it on standby. Also, the more you have, the better! Visit Incredible Connection, Takealot, Game, and The Gadget Shop to check out their selection of these lifesavers.
Just because the power is out, doesn't mean you cannot stream, surf the web or continue with your assignment or presentation that's due tomorrow! Use a portable modem or 3G dongle to keep connected to the internet during bouts of load shedding. Most mobile networks and internet providers offer these nifty gadgets, so make sure you contact them or visit your nearest store to get yours ASAP. See, owning a dongle isn't that bad!
Before everything else on this list, make sure that you jam-pack your pantry with lots and lots of snacks! That way, you won't starve yourself due to not having electricity to cook up some dinner on the stove or in the microwave. It's not the healthiest of meals, we know, but it's a delicious way to pass the time.
Or maybe you could save yourself all the time, effort and money ensuring you're set, ready and prepared for the load shedding by just sleep through it! There's no harm in getting in more sleep, is there? Before you know it, you'll be awakened by the flash of lights turning back on. Or better yet, why not just go out into the city, find a spot with power and just hang out there with a couple of friends?