How to stay warm during winter power cuts

South Africans should brace themselves for a possibility of up to 26 days of load shedding this winter if Eskom’s power supply capacity is hampered by faults and breakdowns.

In this piece first published on The Conversation, experts predict that SA’s electricity blackouts are set to continue for the next 5 years.

Power cuts in winter are not just an inconvenience. They can cost lives. Fires are caused by desperate families using unsafe methods to try to heat their homes. When the temperatures drop, the elderly and frail are at risk of dying of hypothermia.

In February this year, a massive storm hit the United States, knocking out power in Texas for over four million people. At the time, the country was in mid-winter, and the subsequent loss of power led to several tragic deaths.

In the video above, and in the text below, find 7 ways to keep warm safely when the power goes out:

1. Insulate Your Home

Using packaging tape, towels or clothing, cover up any cold air entryways, and gaps where cold air could get in from outside.

2. Designate a main living space.

Set up your household activities in one room to retain heat in that room. Choose a room with the fewest windows and doors.

3. Layer your clothing

Wear layers of comfortable, lightweight clothing to prevent body heat from escaping.

4. Use alternative heat sources, but make sure they are SAFE

Make sure any heaters and other heat sources are safe for indoor use. Keep the heat source away from anything flammable and make sure the heat source is in a well ventilated location.

5. Keep extra clothing on hand

This is in case your clothing gets wet, and you need to change as quickly as possible. This goes for any clothing you exercise in too. Don’t allow your clothing to get too wet.

You can perform short sessions of light exercise to get the blood flowing and to help you stay warm, but don’t do any exercise that will cause you to sweat excessively.

6. Keep eating and drinking

Your body needs to be fuelled to keep warm. Cold air is dry, so make sure you stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

7. Keep in touch

Stay in touch with friends, family and community members and stay current with the news. This will help you decide whether or not you or a community member needs help. The news and local municipal websites or Facebook pages will provide the details of local authorities you can contact for assistance.

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