How to stay safe in the dark


Let’s face it, while Batman might be most at home the shadows, dispatching thugs and goons in the darkest hours of the night, you’re probably not as effective.

While many of us may begrudge our inability to cook or entertain ourselves during load shedding, it’s far more important to ensure that you’re safe. So many of our security systems depend on power, and when Eskom throws a fit we’re all put at risk. Maybe it’s time you reconsidered how to look after yourself when the power is down…

Back your batteries

Or rather back-up your batteries with spares. You’ll be amazed at how many security appliances use batteries; electric fences, gates and sometimes cameras all run on battery power.

Which is great for load shedding because they’ll often continue to run once the electricity dies. Yet what if they’re just not coping with all those pesky power surges? What if load shedding gets worse? Then you’ll need something to make sure your boundaries are kept in place.

While it’s totally possible to run an electric fence and gate with a 12V car battery, we wouldn’t recommend it. While it might work in a pinch, car batteries are designed to give off a lot of energy in a short burst and then continue giving off low power.

That initial jolt of power can do some serious damage to the energisers running both your fence and your gate. What we recommend instead is a 12V deep cycle leisure battery. These suckers only need charging every 3-5 weeks and are designed to deliver a constant stream of low energy which is exactly what you’ll need to keep your metal barricades juiced and ready to fend off invaders. You can find 12V deep cycle leisure batteries at most camping and vehicle repair stores for little over R1,000 a pop.

Praise the sun

Let us all raise our hands and say a quiet thanks to the sun for blessing us with its’ radiant energy. Was it not for the bountiful rays that cascade down upon our shoulders, how would we ever be able to power our security cameras and motion-sensitive lights during load shedding? Not all your security measures need batteries, some of them just need some beautiful sun juice to stay up and running for when you need them most.

While solar-powered cameras can be a little pricy, usually within the range of R3,000 depending on who you’re buying from, the peace of mind they afford is one of a kind. Security cameras don’t exactly require a large amount of power to function so you’ll definitely get at least a day of footage out of a single charge. As for lights, these are far easier to come across and cheaper too! Takealot is busy selling a some lower end solar powered motion sensing lights fo R100, just don’t expect them to be top of the range. You’ll have to spend a few hundred if you want the good stuff.

App! At the Disco

While it feels like almost everyone is walking around with a panic button in their back pocket at all times, sometimes they’re just not as effective as you’d like them to be. Why walk around with an extra remote all the time when you could just have an app on your phone that does exactly the same? Namola serves as the app you need when you’re in danger, sending out a signal to any volunteers or metro responders to make sure you’re safe and sound.

Two versions of Namola are available, a free version that functions as a normal app on your mobile device while Namola Plus comes with a special beacon fitted with a GPS tracker and mobile network capabilities, serving as a communicator to Namola HQ if your phone is damaged or lost. It’s basically just a very fancy panic button but the ability to communicate with operators directly is a big plus.

Passing the torch

It’s one of the most common fears during load shedding. The power’s out, it’s the middle of the night and you hear something out in the garden. All the dogs are inside, everyone’s asleep so what was that? You can’t just turn the bedroom lights on so you’ll need to come up with a better plan. Fortunately for you, you read to the end of this section and invested in a powerful torch to light up the yard, ensuring no-one can escape from your sight.

If we might be so bold, we’d recommend an Acebeam X80 because this little monster is basically a miniature spotlight in your hand. With 25,000 lumens output, six brightness levels, a range of different light colours and chunky enough to deliver a good walloping (if the worst comes to the worst) this torch is your best scare tactic against any intruders. That, and it only costs just over R4,000. Guess you can put a price on safety.

Head on a swivel

Look, at the end of the day, the best way to keep yourself safe during load shedding is to just be prepared. The above gadgets and appliances are nice but they’ve got nothing on just keeping a level head and not being an idiot. Keep your phones charged, have emergency numbers easily accessible and don’t be a hero. We shouldn’t need to say it again but you’re not Batman. However, you are smart enough to look after yourself and your loved ones, we know that much.


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I completed a Masters Degree just so someone might take my opinions seriously one day. Also writes about video games over at Critical Hit.

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