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Brownouts are a big part of our lives these days here in Davao, and for others around the Philippines. Especially in Mindanao where Davao is probably the most hard hit city. That’s why I am writing about it again today. Last week, Aaron wrote an article about Brownouts on Tuesday, and I wrote a sort of rebuttal to his article on Friday. I am following up today with an article about what we are doing to deal with Brownouts.
The brownout schedule has become almost unbearable here in Davao, but we are hoping that things will come to an end in a month or so, after the Presidential election. That has been the case in the past where we have been hit by big brownouts leading up to a Presidential election, with the brownouts ending right after the election. I don’t know why, but Filipinos seem to expect elections to be accompanied by brownouts!
Currently, we are being warned of up to 11 hours of brownout per day. We are given a schedule of when those brownouts will happen in our neighborhoods. The schedule includes a 5 hour brownout in the morning, another 5 hour brownout in the afternoon/evening, and then a supplemental 1 hour brownout some time in the day. If you think about that, it means that we can have brownout during most waking hours! The good news is that usually we only get one of those 5 hour brownouts each day, not both, so that is one good thing. Still, even 5 or 6 hours of brownout is a lot, and you have to develop some plans on how you will deal with it.
Schedule your day
A great way to deal with long brownouts is to make plans. Look at the brownout schedule, and plan your activities accordingly. For example, Feyma often needs to go do shopping for groceries, or other items, each day. If you look at what times the brownouts are scheduled, just go take care of your errands during those times. I mean, the malls and most stores have air conditioning, and also have industrial scale generators, so if you are in the store when the brownout hits, you are really not affected in most cases. So, if you have a list of errands to run, take care of those errands during the brownout hours
The malls are a favorite brownout hangout for Filipinos. One strategy that I like to employ is to schedule things like meetings during the brownout times. If I need to meet people, I usually will meet them at a mall – a coffee shop like Starbucks normally. So, if my brownout schedule is, say 8 until 12, I will schedule my meeting to start at 9am at the coffee shop. I will then shower at 8 or so, and hit the road. This way, I can be away from home for most of the brownout hours. This is usually quite effective and may help me avoid 2 to 4 hours of brownout, depending on how long my meeting may last.
Most people use candles during brownouts. Problem is, that can be quite dangerous. I know that a number of people in Davao have died recently due to fires that have started from brownout candles. A friend of a friend died this way just last week. Quite sad. We recently purchased some rechargeable LED lighting for the house. We purchased a total of 5 of these lighting units. The light includes a total of 66 LEDs and it is very bright. One light unit is plenty to light up an entire room. The light units were only P350, but were actually on sale for P270, very cheap!
One thing that I do if we have a brownout at night is that I will go out walking for exercise during the brownout. One of the problems I found with this, though, was that our street is just about totally black during a brownout at night, and I was unable to see a thing! This is partly due to the eye problems that I have been telling you about, but also because of the darkness from brownout. When we bought those rechargeable lights that I mentioned previously, they also had some sort of “mini flashlights”. These are very portable, have around 20 LED lights in them, and are also rechargeable. We bought 4 or 5 of them also, at P99.95 each. They are great! Perfect to carry on a walk around the neighborhood during darkness.
A couple of years ago when we had a month or so with regular brownouts, I purchased a USB powered fan. You can plug this into a Laptop and run the fan off of your laptop battery, or anything that has a USB connection. The fan is small, but I find it to be very effective in keeping me cool! I sometimes feel a little guilty using it, because we only have one. When I ask Feyma to let me share it with her, she says she does not need a fan. Makes me feel bad to use it in front of her, but she insists! I am close to convincing her to get one for herself as well. At only about P150 for the fan, I feel that you just can’t go wrong!
Power banks are a necessity! We currently have 3 power banks in the house. I have one small one that I bought a couple of years ago, but like I say it is quite small and lasts a maximum of a couple hours. When Aaron was in the States last year, he bought two large capacity power banks that are great. Those power banks will hold out, I would say, for about 10 hours of use. I don’t know how long for sure, because they have never run dry. After a 5 hour brownout, I recharge them to “top off the tanks” for the next long brownout.
We use these power banks to run the USB fan and also to recharge our cell phones during brownouts. With our cellphones we can get Internet (although it is not very good), Facebook, Spotify to play some music, and that kind of thing. The Globe 3G mobile Internet works fairly well for Facebook and for Spotify, but for general Internet it just is not too good.
The power banks that we have include two USB ports, a micor USB charging port and an LED flashlight.
One thing that I have been doing that has been great is that when there is an hour or less until the brownout should end, I will take a shower. This serves a couple purposes.
- It cools me down.
- If I have been out getting some exercise during the brownout, it gets me not only cool, but clean too.
Also, if you extend your shower to at least 30 minutes or so, that is 30 brownout minutes when you are comfortable! It works great for me.
Getting through it
So, we are getting through these long brownouts, and these are some of the strategies that we are using to do it. Do you have other strategies or ideas? If so, share them with us so that others can benefit!