The failing of an Eskom transformer led to a 40-hour electricity “outage” from Monday to Wednesday last week– no electricity was available for the Swellendam area.
Apart from the difficulties this caused, the silver lining was that it also provided an opportunity to experience the effects of a relatively long-term outage and thus understand the necessity to plan for any future outages.
Make no mistake, life is not easy without electricity. It is an indispensable part of modern life for most people including providing light, entertainment, refrigeration, efficient meal preparation and hot water.
What can we learn about the experience which will enable us to prepare for the possibility of future long-term outages?
For many businesses, the 40 hours without electricity was a disaster – mainly due to the lack of refrigeration capacity. Much perishable food had to be disposed of – fortunately some of it went to soup kitchens to feed the hungry.
For many households, apart from the obvious issues of lack of lighting and food spoilage, it seems the major problem was about keeping devices, such as mobile phones charged….!!!!
Many have predicted that an outage would bring unrest and increased crime. This did not happen in Swellendam, due both to a fantastic community spirit and the efforts of many in the Neighbourhood Watch and SAPS.
There was good communication from our mayor and the municipality, so we were kept informed. We had some certainty!
The following provides some ideas of what can be done at a household level, in the short term, to minimise the consequences of an extended outage of up to 2 days and make shorter outages easier to bear.
Keep the following items in a place that is easily accessible to all family members when needed.
Other considerations would include the following.
Food in one’s freezer will defrost and should be consumed before it spoils. Don’t forget to put a can opener and scissors where you can easily find them!
If one owns a vehicle or backup generator, ensure that you have sufficient fuel safely stored.
We welcome other ideas and contributions!
John Paisley, Viv Crone
Parts 2 and 3 will follow shortly – please leave your comments, suggestions, ideas on this page
Developed by Evolution Media House