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Coping with power cuts

Copingwith power cuts

We are all aware of the current energy crisis we face in our country, and, however we do not like having to, the reality is that we need to be able to cope with load shedding and make the best out of the situation for our own and our children’s sakes. It is always much better to rather try to do something positive about a bad situation, rather than complaining about it.

The first very important thing we can try to do is to conserve our energy and use it sparingly so that the Load Shedding situation can be relieved. There are some simple ways in which we can all make a difference in the situation. One example would be to switch geysers off for a period of time every day. One could also use alternative cooking methods, which could cut down on electricity usage even more, one of which could be to buy a 2 plate gel stove (available from any retailer, such as Pick ‘n Pay), which could be used even when there is electricity. The gel used in these stoves does not smoke and costs only a fraction of the price of the electricity you will use to power your electric stove.

It is true that we will have to cope with frequent load shedding for the next five years, so we have to have some coping mechanisms in the mean time. I read an article by a Zimbabwean recently, handing out some tips to South Africans who are fuming about the load shedding situation in the country, and he found our disdain quite ridiculous, and rightly so (by the way, Load Shedding is not an exclusively South African thing. It has been going on in the USA for years now). In his article, he pointed out the following:

“Please, South African householders, unless you live on more than an acre, don’t get a generator. There will be murder in the streets of Parkhurst, the Berea in Durban and Obs in Cape Town if home owners on tiny bits of land all have generators farting rhythmically through long days and dark nights. Even small generators use 1 litre of diesel per hour. And they get stolen easily unless cemented in and you need monster ones to do fridges and stoves.

First rule for survival: get a solar panel on the roof, which is connected to an especially large car battery in your house, which is then attached to an inverter, which in turn has a switch that lights up the world. This system keeps a TV, DSTV encoder, DVD player, mobile and laptop chargers going. And it costs nothing to run. The bigger the battery, the more lights. (Ditch desktop computers today.) It doesn’t do fridges and it doesn’t do electric stoves.

Go for gas. Mozambique has 300 years of gas, and the ANC government - even though it chose to do the arms deal instead of electricity - did put in a pipeline for gas from Mozambique.
If you live in the older suburbs of Johannesburg phone look up the angels (seriously) at eGoli Gas and they will look on the map to see if you have a gas pipe in your street. If you have, then get connected. Gas geysers also work at a fraction of the cost of electricity if you don’t go for solar-heated water."

If solar power does not seem to be the answer for you, protect your appliances and other electronics by switching them off and unplugging them from their energy source. During a power cut you run the risk of power surges, which can be a dangerous threat to your valuable equipment. It is also always a good idea to have an emergency load shedding kit around the house for use during the hours you are out of electricity. You can have your children help you assemble the kit.

Load-shedding Kit

A first aid kit.
When the power is cut you are more at risk of having an accident. The potential lack of light makes it important that you have first aid items gathered together.

A source of lighting.
Candles and matches are a good idea to include, but your first light source should be a battery powered torch. These are safer and do not present the same danger of fire. Consider how many members of the family there are and how many torches you will need. Don't forget spare batteries. Invest in a small LP gas lamp, as they provide good quality lighting for a large area, and in a gas heating ring for essential cooking.

Things to consider:

Keep your emergency kit accessible.
Remember, you will have to locate it during a power cut, which may mean in the dark. Keeping the kit in the same place always will help your family locate it quickly and without difficulty. It may be a good idea, however, to check the load shedding schedule in your area in order to try to be prepared and have your kit ready for when the electricity is cut.

Think about your telephone.
Make sure that your cellphone’s battery is fully charged at all times. Not only is this a good idea regardless of the circumstances, but when landline telecommunications are interrupted due to power outages, you will need your cellphone to reach the outside world.
Adequate fuel in your vehicle is another precaution, given that pumps at petrol stations cannot be operated during power outages.

The same goes for ATMs, therefore some cash stored in a safe place at home is a good idea.

Electric doors and gates
To ensure that you will be able to get into (and out of) you home, release automatic electric garage door mechanisms and switch electric security gates to manual operation. Refrain from opening the refrigerator door during a power outage as this will allow the cold air to escape. By keeping the door closed, a power outage of up to four hours will not cause food to spoil in the fridge, while a freezer should keep frozen food safe for at least a day. It is a good idea to have snacks available that do not need refrigeration.

From a security point of view, ensure that all doors and windows are locked should your alarm system not have a back-up power supply.

If you have a fireplace, make sure that you have adequate wood or charcoal for a fire. If not, invest in a gas heater. Not only will this come in handy during an outage, but gas is far more effective for space heating than electricity.

Food Preparation
You will need to think about cooking and the like, as load shedding occurs during the time you would be preparing food for your family a lot of the time. If you are aware of when your electricity will be down, you can make sure you boil enough hot water before it happens and put it in flasks, so that you can at least have your cup of coffee when you need it. A second precaution you could take is to prepare stews, caseroles and curries beforehand and freeze them. This means you can just warm it up on a gas stove or on a gel stove and have food ready for the family. Alternatively, why not use the opportunity for family bonding? A good, old fashioned braai, a picknic on the lounge flour or a Chinese Stir Fry (on a Skottel Scar) could make for a perfect evening with the ones you love. You could include your children in the preparation of your salads or try one of our load shedding recipe ideas to share the experience with them.

It is always important to keep your children happily occupied during power cuts. If the power cut is during the day time, they could be occupied with all kinds of gaming activities outside. During the evening it becomes a little more difficult, as many families spend time in front of the TV. You would, yet again, at such times, engage in some family activities together. Playing board games is always a good idea, and could also be very beneficial for the mental growth of your children. You could also try one of our gaming suggestions.

After the outage
Once the power had been restored, do not switch all your appliances on at once as the power supply might still be slightly unstable. Only switch on those you need immediately.

It is a good idea to switch appliances on and off systematically to make sure that no damage was caused by the power interruption, and that the equipment is in good working order.

Remember to reset electronic clocks, especially your bedside alarm, and other timers that could have been disturbed, such as the pool pump or sprinkler system.

All in all, load shedding need not be a negative experience for anybody in the family, as long as it is dealt with in an effective way.
Load-shedding Games

Story Puzzle
An old favourite but a good idea none the less. The family must sit in a circle and one person must start a story using only one sentence. Going around in a circle, each person must add a sentence to the story, until the story has a satisfying ending.

This game is great for the mental and creative development of your child, as it stimulates the mind to stretch further than what is normally required of it.

Word Association
Another game that is not only fun, but stimulating for your child. The family still sits in a circle and one person starts by saying a word. Each person should say a word that they associate with the word the previous person said. If a person is not able to come up with a word, they fall out and have to sit in the middle. The last person standing is the winner of the game.

This game works best in bigger groups because it is about memory, so it may be used most effectively if your children have friends over when there is load shedding. Each person in the group should pick a name of a fruit or vegetable for herself. Make sure that no two people have the same name. The players must now call each other using their name and the name of the person they are calling, something like this, “Paw-paw, Paw-paw calling Grape, Grape.” Grape must now call somebody else in the group, but is not allowed to call Paw-paw back. The fun part of the game is that the players are not allowed to show their teeth when calling. If any teeth show, the player is out and must sit in the middle. The last person standing is the winner.

This is yet another old favourite, but is lots of fun indeed. Yet again, everybody sits in a circle. A culprit and a detective are chosen (preferably by Mom or Dad) while everybody’s eyes are closed, so that only they know who they are. After this, the culprit starts ‘killing’ his ‘victims’ by winking at them (do this as discreetly as possible, as you do not want the detective to see it). As soon as somebody is ‘killed', they must make a dying sound of some sort and collapse. It is the detective’s job to try to figure out who the culprit is by being as observant as possible. If the detective works out who the culprit is, she wins. If she cannot get the culprit caught, the culprit wins.

Load shedding Recipe Ideas

Tasty Fruit Kabobs
Prep time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4

• 1 apple
• 1 banana
• 1/3 c. red seedless grapes
• 1/3 c. green seedless grapes
• 2/3 cup pineapple chunks
• 1 cup nonfat yogurt
• 1/4 c. dried coconut, shredded

1. Wash the fruit and cut the larger items into smaller chunks. Put the fruit onto a large plate.

2. Spread coconut onto another large plate.

3. Slide pieces of fruit onto the skewer and design your own kabob by putting as much or as little of whatever fruit you want! Do this until the stick is almost covered from end to end.

4. Hold your kabob at the ends and roll it in the yogurt, so the fruit gets covered. Then roll it in the coconut.

Repeat these steps with another skewer.

Veggie Pepper bowls
Prep time: about 10 minutes
Serves: 1

• 1 green, yellow, or red pepper, washed
• 1 bunch of celery, washed
• 1 carrot, washed and peeled
• your favorite salad dressing

1. Cut the pepper in half (from side to side). Clean out the insides. Now you have two pieces. One will be your pepper-shaped bowl.

2. Cut the other half of the pepper into skinny slices.

3. Cut the carrot and celery into skinny sticks.

4. Put a little salad dressing in the bottom of your pepper bowl.

5. Put celery sticks, carrot sticks, and pepper slices into the pepper bowl.

6. Now you’ve got a portable veggie treat! You can pull out the veggies and eat them with a little dressing. Then when you’re finished with the veggies, it’s time to eat the bowl!

Yogie snacks
Prep time: 5 minutes
Serves: 1
Serving size: approximately 1 1/4 cup

Mix all Ingredients into a cup:
3/4 c. light fruit-flavored yogurt
1 tbsp. raisins
1 tbsp. sunflower seeds
1/3 c. strawberries

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