What Happens When The Lights Go Out – Permanently

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Have you ever seriously considered what happens when the lights go out….permanently, or for a long period? It is a chilling thought, no matter where you are in the world, here in South Africa or any other country. The results would be catastrophic.

There are a large variety of reasons why the power could go off. In South Africa, we have lived through rolling blackouts for years and it is a typical event in current South Africa where infrastructure is destroyed by rioting citizens who are dissatisfied with service delivery or the slow pace of transformation or land redistribution, not to mention the theft of cables that happens daily.

Many groups have predicted that December could be a time of serious concern, especially with Organised Labour saying that they want this to be a Black December, and now, for the first time, Eskom has implemented stage 6 Load shedding.

These are just a few of the everyday issues that could have an effect on our power so maybe we should consider the power gridunlikely and undesirable effect of the power grid going down because it is not something that you can just turn back on. Why, The more developed a country, the more dependent the functioning of services in both the private, municipal or state-owned services and because it has to be done systematically. Depending on the cause of the shutdown, much of the infrastructure could be damaged and require repairs.

The problem is not only the power supply but also the facilities that certain businesses and service providers need to provide services. Local grocers, for example, cannot sell groceries without the telecommunications infrastructure that makes bank card transactions. If the computer system at their payment points can not scan barcodes, they will not be able to carry out any transactions. Businesses depend on complex and technologically advanced pay-purchase-order verification systems. If these systems are interrupted the power outage, businesses and service providers would also be stopped.

So, whatever the cause, what would happen?

Day 1

Power goes off.

  1. No Traffic lights –
    1. traffic chaos.
    2. Intersections blocked,
    3. no street lights
    4. no public transport – trains, buses and taxis would be gridlocked
  2. No power at homes
    1. no cooking at homes and most restaurants.
    2. no lights
    3. no telephone and cellphones would die soon due to high usage.
    4. radio repeaters and cellular phone towers would stop operating as soon as the batteries are flat and the fuel for the generators has been used up.

Day 2

  1. Water dries up as the pumps would have no power to refill the reservoirs. How much water do you have on hand in containers? Rush on water supplies at stores.
  2. Food supplies are snatched up at supermarkets as people try to get stocks. Supermarkets have stock for 3 normal days of demand. Stocks might last 2 days.
  3. Sewage would stop working. How would you dispose of the families waste, especially if you live in a flat?
  4. Fuel will dry up rapidly as everyone tries to stockpile.
  5. Police and emergency services would become ineffective as they will have no communications and pretty soon no fuel.
  6. Roads and Freeways Gridlocked as people try to flee the cities’ en mass.Grid Lock

Day 3

  1. Medication demand rises as people realise that they need to get a supply of chronic meds and other medical supplies.
  2. Shops start running Dry, No food left in stores
  3. General chaos. If you are not out of the city by now, it is probably too late, unless you walk out.

Coal Emergency In Mpumalanga

On the news this morning (17/04/2018) there are reports of Eskom having a desperate shortage of coal at 7 of it’s Mpumalanga coal burning Power Stations. Eskom, of course, denies this but the reports are persistent and even report that a Coal Emergency be declared in Mpumalanga.

Now I don’t know about you but I have learned, as a South African, as far as Eskom and other State Institutions go, where there is smoke, there is almost always fire. If these reports are true, what does it mean for our Power Grid if the coal does run out at some of these stations?

Better Safe Than Sorry

I have always been taught that it is always better to be safe than sorry. From my childhood as a Scout, through my Police Career and as an Occupational Health and Safety practitioner I have always been taught and practised this philosophy.

I personally feel that it is better to prepare for the possible and never need it than to not prepare and then need it. I have had to plan and prepare for many scenarios throughout my life and very rarely needed them. But the once or twice the possible situations occurred, I was thankful that I had planned for them.
That is how I feel about prepping for any disaster, natural or otherwise, war or civil unrest. I would far rather have a plan civil warand never need to put it into action than to wake up one day to find myself and my family in a desperate situation that I have not planned for and have no idea how to handle.

Preparing for specific, possible situations does not have to cost thousands of Rand. The important part is to start with a plan and then start the preparations as and when you can. Remember, you still have to live your normal life and maintain your lifestyle. The difference is that you now plan and budget for whatever you might need to deal with the possible emergency.

Determine The Need

Always determine what you are preparing for. Different types of need have different requirements. Some circumstances determine that you remain where you are with the required food, water, medicine and fuel supplies. Other circumstances could dictate that you need to flee the area.

The Need To Plan

To come up with an effective plan, you need to determine the most likely event or events, prioritise them and plan and prepare accordingly. This does not mean rushing out and spending $10k to buy everything immediately unless the threat is imminent.

In most circumstances, if we just acknowledge the possibility of the threat, assess its Risk and plan and prepare accordingly, we can build up the resources over time. Yes, the event could occur before you have completed your preparations but, if you plan correctly, you will have a plan in place for that contingency.

Your first plan should deal with the envisaged situation with what you have on hand. You can then see what you need as a matter of Priority and create a priority list of acquisitions. Note: I did not say Priority list of PURCHASES. You do not need to purchase everything. A lot, in fact, the bulk of things you could manufacture, cook or prepare yourself, at a fraction of the price


Prepping is a fact of life. We all prep in some form or another. This is just prepping for a possible life-changing event. It is not to say that it will happen, but it is better to be realistic about things. You cannot prep for everything but you can prep for events that pose a very real risk.

If you have any Questions about Prepping, especially in South Africa, please ask them here.


If you have any advice or opinions, please leave them below.

Be Aware. Be Safe. Be Prepared!

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