Loadshedding | Impact of loadshedding on physical security

Discover our series of articles introduced by our members on loadshedding | Article #1 Atcoglo

We have all experienced and have been inconvenienced by the effects of having no electricity, sometimes for days at a time by the unpredictability of Eskom's ability to deliver a service without interruption, is a stark reality that we have been forced to embrace.

What is Load Shedding?

Load shedding is a way to distribute demand for electrical power across multiple power sources. It is a means to relievestress on the main sourceof energy when the demand exceeds the supply.

The shutdown of electric power becomes necessary, to stabilize the system and to prevent failure to the entire system.

Load shedding can be a planned event, when the system is taken down deliberately for planned maintenance and fault repairs, or unplanned, when cable thefts, system failures, breakdowns occur, and load sheddingis implemented at a moment’snotice.


What is PhysicalSecurity?

Physical Security are the security measures in place, e.g. technologies, security systems and manpower to protect you, your family,assets and workplace, etc.

For Companies, Physical Security planning involves: defining the scope of work, based on proper risk assessment, the goal being to protect a facility, device, or network, and implementing appropriate measuresand policies. A Visitor Management System and Access Control System are the basic elementsof an effective physical security system, but would need to be accessed on an individual basis to ensure other layersare put in place for the effectiveprotection of the premises, employeesand assets .

For an effectivePhysical Security System, regulartesting, monitoring, and updating of the securitysystems and procedures, as well as training and awareness of the staff and visitors needs to be implemented, with periodic maintenance conducted regularly.

Some of the commonphysical security measures are fences, gates,doors, locks, cameras,sensors, alarms, guards, badges, biometrics, and encryption. (All of the electronic systems in place needs electricity and a good battery back-upsystem to work efficiently and effectively)

Physical securityboth residential and organisational, is essential as it ensuresthe safety, continuity, and integrity, especially in the era of cyber-attacks and global threatsand more so now with us being dogged by load shedding.


How does Load sheddingaffect Physical Security?

Load shedding has become a reality in South Africa and is here to stay. Unfortunately, the consequences of load shedding are far reaching and considerably out of your and our control. As the owner and user of a security system, you are faced with the danger of having no power to your security system during prolonged and extended periodsof outages. This renders you vulnerable and at risk to intrusion.


While your security service provider’s control room is adequately equipped to function during these times, they can only respond if they receive a signal from your system. Frequent power failures can lead to battery malfunctions as well as possible surges that might damage your electronic equipment during power shut down and powerup.


This leads to:

  • Delayed Service delivery in terms of response time. Your service provider is under enormous pressure due to the exponential increase in signal volumes.
  • Response turnaround times can also be affected due to responsecompanies having to deal withtraffic congestion and the backlogwhich include incorrect/false signals.
  • Technical service delivery is also under enormous pressuredue to more and more system failurescaused by load shedding.


We would recommend that:

  • Your battery is checked regularly and is still in good working condition and able to provide sufficient power to your system during power outages. Have your battery checked by your service provider.
  • Assist your service provider by cancelling false alarms with the control room, prior to them dispatching a response vehicle.
  • Consider making use of alternative methodsof powering your security system i.e., Inverter,coupled or not with Solar panels or larger back-up battery systems with extended power supplies as well as the use of generators where possible.


Alarms and other physical security systems:

Load shedding and power surges cause your Security system’s batteries and power systems to drain faster or not recharge sufficiently. This will impact your alarm system’s functionality and affect the duration of your securitysystem.

Additionally, continued exposure to power surges and power cuts increase the risk of technical issues to your alarm system. Over time, this can negatively affect your alarm programming and efficiency of the sensors attached to your door sand windows. 

For smaller alarm systems, with fewer than 8 external devices, the standard battery supplied will initially be sufficient. However, over time and with extended exposure to power cuts the lifespan will reduce significantly. This would apply to your Motor gate Battery as well.

To a larger extent, alarm systems that exceed 8 external devices, the power requirements will increase depending on the type and quantity of devices that need powering. External devices include elements like sensors,beams, automated gates,and electric fencing.


Your battery, and backup battery systems, is the heart of your entire Electronic Security system. Without this, none of your security features will function. Having a well-maintained Electronic Security system is pointless if there is no power to keep it running. The battery and back-up power solutions offered to you by your Security service provider are designed with this in mind.

Clients who install back-up power for their alarms enjoythe following benefits:


  1. Back-up power ensures that their alarm and security systems continue to function correctly and in turn provides protection to their family, their property, and their possessions long after the averagepower supply is depleted.
  1. By extending the standby time of their security system they have peace of mind knowing all theirsecurity features will remain operational until the electricity returns.


Unfortunately, the impact and ramifications of Eskom’s prolonged load shedding is far bigger than we could have ever imagined. It places significant strain on service providers, cellular networks, businesses and on Securityservices to you.


Naturally, when the electricity supply halts, batteries powering Electronic Security systems and other security systems are put under pressure. This is exacerbated when load shedding stages is increased, especially at the current rate that we are load shedding. We understand during this time it is possible to feel vulnerable – and/or even paranoid. There are also indirect, but equally dangerous consequences of load shedding at night, when streetlights and traffic lights are off. This places a greater safety burden on motorists driving home throughareas that are load shedding after sunset.


Tips on safety duringLoad shedding:


  1. Alarm Batteries: Make sure all batteries are charged and working. Checkthem regularly.
  1. Electric Fencing: To ensure that your electric fencing continues to function during the power cuts/load shedding, your electric fence battery shouldhave a back-up battery.
  1. Generators: If you are using a generator never operate it anywhere inside of your home, including the garage or any confined or enclosed area. It emits carbon monoxide which can be fatal.
  2. Arriving/Leaving Home: Ensure that you are especially alert when arriving or leaving your home in the evenings, as the streetlights and your outside lighting will not be functioning during the power cuts/load shedding process. Keep a torch in your car and watch your surroundings.
  3. At Home: Ensure that all your automated gates and doors are secured, and that all other gates and doors are locked.
  4. Fire protection: With candles, gas and other lighting devices being used more often, these can result in an increased fire hazard. A home fire extinguishers should be kept on hand.
  5. Install or keep battery operated lights in strategic places in your homes.
  6. Keep the keys to motorised gates in an accessible place and have good quality padlocks available to use as a back-up.
  7. Programme your security service provider’s number into your mobile phone for emergency purposes. Ensure that your mobile devices are charged sufficiently to last during the load sheddingperiod, in case of unwarranted emergencies.


With your safety in mind, Risk&Co are available for consultation on optimising your Safety and Security. We can be contacted for further consultation for your Personal as well as your Business Security and Risk Management.

Load Shedding is here to stay.  Good Luck! 

For more information, contact Christophe Guignon / Managing Director Atcoglo t/a Risk&Co / Mobile: +27 (0) 68 278 0617

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