Loadshedding is another term for rolling blackouts and power cuts. Load-shedding happens when there’s a huge demand on the national power grid, leading to the interruption of the electricity supply to the country. Loadshedding discontinues the power supply to certain areas, according to a schedule, to allow the power utility to get failed generation units back online. Load-shedding is implemented in stages and depends on the extent of the shortage of electricity generation.
Step 1: Eskom decides on the load-shedding stage, depending on the number of megawatts needed to balance the power grid.
Step 2: Eskom and municipalities then implement load-shedding on a rotational basis, based on the schedule developed.
Step 3: Loadshedding is done for 2 – 4 hours (sometimes longer) depending on the schedule for your area.
Note: The higher the loadshedding stage, the more frequently you will experience electricity outages.
Loadshedding affects everyone to varying degrees. There are places which experience little to no load-shedding, due to their proximity to important government structures such as hospitals and parliament etc.
You can call ahead and ask whether the area you’re visiting experiences loadshedding. If they do, enquire about backup generators or alternative power supply.
Electronically controlled appliances such as computers, televisions etc can be damaged after the power comes back on. This is because the power may come back on with a momentary surge. It is safer to switch off and disconnect any electrical appliances you’ve been using before load-shedding takes place. The use of surge protection plugs can help prevent damage to your electronics.
The fact is, there is no way to completely avoid load-shedding. However, you can minimise the impact of it on your holiday by being prepared. Here are a few additional tips:
Keep some cash on you as most ATMs cannot operate without electricity. Ensure your mobile phone, laptop, and tablet are always fully charged when power is available. This will allow you to be able to communicate with friends and family during load-shedding. If you do not have a gas stove, prepare meals before the power is scheduled to be switched off. Boil water in your kettle and keep it in thermos flasks for hot drinks. You can also use an insulating cover on teapots, pots, and pans to keep drinks and meals warm. Or go out and have a bite to eat, most eateries special load-shedding menus.
Most medication requiring refrigeration can be kept in a closed fridge for several hours without spoiling. However, you should check with your doctor or pharmacist if in doubt. Store temporary lighting such as battery-powered torches and hand-held lights, gas lamps and candles in places where they will be easy to find in the dark. Make sure your vehicle always has fuel in the tank as most petrol stations cannot pump fuel during power outages.