On 24 June South African sat up and took notice when energy expert Ted Blom warned that there would be a 50% chance of a complete countrywide blackout. Should that occur, Blom estimated that it could take up to two weeks before the power would be switched on again.
A month before that, Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille said the city set funds aside and had an emergency plan in place in case of such a blackout.
Large corporations also have contingency plans in place to keep their hospitals and medical services running during a blackout.
While Eskom officials vehemently deny that a blackout is possible, the signs point to the fact that being prepared would serve anyone well.
It is a daunting task to take everything that will come to a standstill during a blackout into account. There will be no water, because the pumps will not be able to function. Cell phone networks and banking services will break down.
At first those with generators will be able to survive comfortably, but after a while it will be impossible to buy fuel because fuel pumps work with electricity. Schools will have to close. Medical services will be severely affected. All areas of modern life will grind to a standstill.
Labour union Solidariteit launched a survival guide during the last week of June in which it gives detailed advice on how to survive a two week long blackout.
According to this strategy, planning on how to get your family together in one place, water, food, transport, medical preparation and security are the main priorities that people have to look at when they plan for a blackout.
Practical tips include keeping a sufficient supply of refuse bags on hand as these could be used for many purposes, keeping an ample amount of water purification tablets in your survival kit, and even ideas on how to keep the children entertained when there are no electronic devices available.
It also explains that the sewerage systems will stop operating as the pumps to keep these running will not be able to run. This will mean that sewage can push up in the pipes and end up in your house; a very dangerous and unhealthy situation. The plan advises that people temporarily block their toilets and drains if a blackout occurs.
Most of the Solidarity approach deals with being pro-active and how to be prepared for all possible scenarios. It also clearly shows how to react when the power grid does go down; what to do immediately, how to survive for a longer time and how to keep your family safe.
It addresses issues like the fact that not everybody will be prepared and families who are prepared should take into account that they might have to help out other families.
“Together we are stronger,” the plan states.