Wednesday, June 18, 2014

According to a recent news report, Eskom can’t guarantee that there will be no power outages this winter as the grid remains tight.

“With this in mind, it’s best to be prepared and to expect rolling blackouts and load shedding in your area over the cold season,” says John October, spokesperson for Dial Direct Insurance.

Besides from reducing your electricity consumption (especially between the peak 5pm to 9pm period), unplugging your appliances when you’re not using them, using gas heaters instead of electric ones and stocking up on warm blankets, here are some useful tips on how to survive a power outage:

  • Put the proposed load shedding times on your fridge 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. If your alarm system does not have a back-up battery, be cautious during a power outage. It is worthwhile to purchase a mobile panic button which runs off batteries and which is linked to a reputable emergency response company.

  • If you rely on a cordless phone, which would obviously be rendered inoperable during a power outage, keep your cell phone handy.

  • Use LED globes with a rechargeable battery backup, so when the power outage occurs, you just need to connect the rechargeable battery to the LED globe to produce light.

  • Make sure your computer, laptop, phone or iPad is fully charged so you can still use them.

  • Keep an oil lamp, torch or solar, battery powered light or lantern or portable light that is charged beforehand in multiple, easily accessible locations around your home. Be sure to also have plenty of fresh, spare batteries.

  • Fill a thermos flask with boiling water before the blackout for a warm cup of tea or coffee during the blackout.

  • If your budget allows, buy a portable generator. Learn to safely use your generator and test it monthly. Make sure to store enough fuel to run the generator for up to a week
  • Your fridge and freezer supplies should be okay without power over night if you do not open and close it repeatedly.

During a power cut, security systems and electric fences will obviously go offline. This raises the question - if your house is burgled during a black-out, are you covered?

“It is a condition in most insurance policies that a house alarm has to be activated at all times when the home is not occupied. So, if a house is burgled during a power cut, then, theoretically, the customer would not benefit from any burglary cover as the alarm would be rendered inoperative. However, if you have a home contents policy and your house is burgled during a blackout, Dial Direct apply principles of fairness and equity when processing such a claim.

“Should a customer have an accident because of ineffective traffic lights caused by a power cut, the client would also enjoy cover. That said, a duty is placed on the shoulders of the customer to exercise more caution when driving in areas affected by the power cuts. Be extra vigilant as visibility will be poor and always treat a traffic light that is not working like a four-way stop,” says October.

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