A day of a Ukrainian during blackout

  • 2023-02-24
  • Daria Shyshko

What does a regular day for a Ukrainian look like? 

If it’s a lucky day and you don’t have a massive 70+ missile attack from Russia, the chance of having a sudden unplanned blackout is low. Instead, you plan your day according to decentralized blackout schedules arranged by local authorities to balance the electrical system of the city, affected by previous damages. Note, not all schedules reflect the real-time of a planned blackout in your house, so there is a big uncertainty issue of when you will get access to electricity. Plus, in many cases your mobile service signal will be either weak or non-existent due to its interdependence with electrical points, so be prepared of having no possibility to make a call. If you can’t rely on a schedule but have to start working, the safest place to go to is the nearest cafe that has a generator or the supermarket, and try to find a spot to work from there. It depends on the policy of the place but some cafes and restaurants request deposits from customers who come to work and eat there to secure their oil bill for the generator. 

Photo credit: personal archive 

The situation changes if a massive country missile attack appears in the picture. At this point no blackout schedule works in the state of emergency - local authorities sporadically turn off the electricity in affected regions and cities, depending on the geo position of the lesion. It’s also important to stress that when a blackout hits, the heating system fails in many cases, so residents face electricity, heating, and hot water outages. When a targeted missile attacks an electrical point, the outcome is only in the hands of professionals: how quickly will they assess the damage, and how much time and effort will be required to fix it. In such cases, people can be in darkness for 24+ hours, waiting for stabilization. At this point it’s hard to predict anything, you just have to wait and find other ways to get electricity.

Places You Can Find Electricity At

Supermarkets are merely the only place where you can get access to electricity if the whole city is at a blackout. Some people charge their phones while standing at the counter of supermarkets. 

Photo credit: personal archive

The other problem that arises is cash withdrawal at ATMs. During the blackout, you can’t use your cards since card terminals don’t work at the cashier register. That’s why people line up to get some cash. 

Photo credit: personal archive.

There is another option the government provides Ukrainians with in times of electricity crisis: Invincibility Point. 

This is a joint endeavor with local authorities that provide temporary electricity-sheltered tents with sockets for charging phones, Wi-Fi, warm blankets, hot tea, and even children's games. You can find such invincibility points across the whole country on this website


Photo credit: Yaroslav Grubych

It’s important to note that locations of such points near the frontlines are non-disclosed. That’s why people who live in Zaporizska, Donetska, Khersonska, and Kharkivska oblasts must contact local authorities and ask for the Invincibility Point addresses directly. 

Overcoming Everyday Challenges

As much as the government and local authorities try to facilitate the electricity crisis and provide citizens with options to keep them warm and with access to power, Ukrainians are steadfastly persevering to keep their life in order while adjusting to new conditions. 

The internet phenomenon and symbol of invincibility: In the capital, where the power was cut off, some strangers recorded a video of a school teacher giving an online lesson on the street close to the supermarket with WiFi access.

"Here is your homework task on the next slide. It is not from the textbook. There is no such topic in the textbook, but it is in the program. So please take a screenshot and drop it in the group chat. I will post it, but a little later, when the Internet will have a better connection, but it's not there yet," the woman says to the children.

The teacher squatted down and placed the laptop on a metal post to teach the lesson.


Photo credit: a stop-shot from a YouTube video

When the massive missile attacks started affecting the infrastructural electricity points across the country - one of the most vulnerable and dependent on power populations were under scrutiny - schoolchildren. With little choice, some pupils simply went on the street to look for available electricity and internet access. Here is a pupil having an online class in the supermarket while charging his computer.

Photo credit: Yevhenii Zavhorodnii

Neither power shortages, nor missile attacks got in the way of Ukrainians’ everyday schedules. Here are musicians rehearsing at the National Philharmonic of Ukraine during the blackout. A couple of portable and rechargeable lamps...and the rehearsal goes on.

Photo credit: National Philharmonic of Ukraine

As you can see, people find ways to bring their lives stability given the circumstances in all ways possible. During such dark times, the only thing you can hope for is to keep the light within yourself no matter what.