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The darker side of load shedding

Load shedding is something that the public will have to live with in the (un)foreseeable future. And it is also going to be very unpredictable, with some weeks having plenty of load shedding, while other weeks the lights remain on.

Bertus Visser, Chief Executive of Distribution at PSG Insure, takes a look here at how the public can try to make load shedding a little bit more bearable.

With the current state of our power grid, load shedding may be something we have to face for some time. It is important to adopt the right precautions accordingly, to protect your valuables and to stay safe. Even though you might see load shedding as an inconvenience, criminals see power outages as opportunities. Here are some tips to help you stay safe when the lights go out.

Pack light

For the most part, load shedding lasts for two and a half hours. Keep this in mind when you leave your place of work or home, especially if it’s later in the day. The warmer months might mean more visibility for longer, but load shedding at night can mean it’s pitch black, or only car lights are visible. When you walk to your car, uber or the bus, avoid carrying the bulk of your possessions, unless essential. Try to only carry what you need such as your phone, keys and your bag. You may also want to carry pepper spray or similar and keeping it to hand is safer than fumbling to find it in a bag, when you most need it.

If you are walking from one place to another, try to take a busy route as opposed to a less congested shortcut. Pick-pocketers are opportunistic and the dark surroundings are a temptation to catch you by surprise. Crime can happen to even the most cautious of individuals, so ensure your All Risk insurance cover extends as you need it to – covering your portable possessions for their correct replacement values. Check that your handbag or briefcase is covered under your policy too. Bags and cell phones typically attract criminal interest because they are often carried in plain sight making you an easy target, especially in the dark.

Cover your contents

This dark time can also shed light on what you might need to replace at home. Any alarms stated in your insurance policy should always have a working, back-up battery. Keep in mind that it should last 4 to 6 hours, and that some smaller models can only last for up to 2 hours. Older batteries may require an upgrade to keep pace with load shedding, and to keep you covered. Load shedding might be planned halfway through an evening you won’t be at home, so it’s best to prepare as best you can. Be sure to lock all doors and close all windows, and make sure your insurer has an up-to-date account of your contents, by supplying the correct, total replacement cost for all your contents at home.

Keep calm and drive on

When it’s lights out, it can impact traffic lights, which can mean car congestion creeps up quickly, as does frustration. Beat the bad traffic blues by planning around load shedding hours, if you can, particularly if they fall within peak traffic time.

Criminals know the advantages of bumper-to-bumper traffic. Keep your windows closed and an eye open for anyone walking in between the cars, or eerily close to the pavement, to avoid smash and grabs.

If you are driving (or you’re a passenger in a car), be mindful that some drivers are impatient with night-time load shedding traffic and some might not even know that it has taken place. Keep an eye out for cyclists who may have forgotten to put their lights on and drivers that take chances at an intersection. Check that your car insurance is up to date too. When you park your car, make sure it’s locked and that your alarm is switched on. Whatever your policy says you should have in place, needs to be active to stay covered.

Be a shining example

Check that your lights are on, but not set too bright, to avoid blinding other drivers. Slow down and keep to a safe driving distance between cars in front of you.

While you can’t control the power supply to the country, you can do your best on the road and control your peace of mind while doing so. Short-term insurance can go the distance with you, keeping you safe, if you follow the rules of your policy and keep your cover up to date.

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