Non-survival level preparations : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I tried starting this thread once and it didn't take. Now that I have another thread to reference I'll try again.

There has been a lot of bandwidth spent discussing preparations for survival-threatening outcomes of Y2K, but there hasn't been very much at all on non-survival level preparations. Perhaps the reasoning for this can be summed up by the following quote from Will Huett in another thread titled "Let's define the terms:"

"Would some of the situations in the PID ZONE [e.g. non-survival level impacts] be unpleasant? Sure, but there is no threat to our society (local or global) as a whole, or to many individuals in a life and death type way. If I thought the problems would exist mainly here, I wouldn't waste my time talking to people."

I can understand that if you expect to spend most of your time just trying to stay alive, the current state of your credit rating, your student loan balance and the accuracy of your prescription records at the pharmacy might not rate very high on your radar screen. However, suppose that survival isn't an issue, or that it ceases to be an issue in relatively short order. If that is the case, those credit ratings, debts and medical records will still be there and may be royally screwed up. Are you going to have taken steps to either prevent or correct problems that may occur? If so, what steps are you taking?

Even if you don't consider these issues to be important in and of themselves, remember first that there is a potential for a whole lot of these small problems. Then remember that there was an ancient Chinese torture called "The Death of a Thousand Cuts." Any one of the cuts was not much more than a nick and was an irritation at best. After a few hundred cuts, the victim was screaming in agony. Eventually, after a long period of suffering, he died. How many cuts are you prepared to avoid?

-- Paul Neuhardt (, September 08, 1998


Just to get the ball rolling, there is a lot to go wrong in life without there being survival-level impacts, and most of those things relate to the quality of that life. If your credit rating gets botched, it might be a long, hard road to get it repaired without proper documentation and proof of payments. It's going to be royal pain in the backside if your town or city suddenly decides to seize your house for the back taxes the computer says you owe. Having receipts is good, but it isn't as good as a receipts and a statement from the taxing authority in November of 1999 saying that you are all paid up. That same basic premise applies to any debt you owe whether that be mortgages and other loans, credit card payments, insurance premiums, utility bills and so on.

A lot of Generation X'ers are going to be lost if the ATM network is down for more than a few hours. How will you do? How much cash on hand is enough?

Anybody on a "budget payment plan" for your utilities? That's where they estimate your total usage for the year and have you make average payments across the entire year. I pay my gas bill that way so I don't see $300 bills in the winter. (Of course, I miss those $12 bills in the summer, but you can't have everything.) Since the averaging method involved uses date math, my gas company could screw things up and start expecting me to pay based on average consumption of 99,999,999 cu. ft./month. I would hope that they would be reasonable about collecting on that bill, but if they aren't I will need some history showing that I haven't used anywhere near that amount of gas.

Are you prepared for the telephones being out for seven days? Personally, I would be just as happy if my phone didn't ring for a few days. On the other hand, the first time I wanted to reach out and touch someone and found no dial tone I would be upset. If that call was intended for my children's pediatrician I might be more than upset. If it was intended for the fire department I might be even more put out. Similarly, suppose a family member has a medical emergency that requires hospitalization. Normally, the hospital can call your pysician(s) and get relevent medical histories faxed over. Not if the phones are out. How many people have copies of their medical records including indications of chronic conditions and treatments, allergies, immunizations, disease history and surgical history? Can you provide a comprehensive list of all medications, including dosages, that everyone in your household is taking at any given time? Can you relate exactly why those medicines are being taken and for how long? More basic than that, how many of you can make a splint for a broken leg with the supplies in your house or know what to do in case of severe bleeding from an external wound?

Is your job or business Y2K dependent? It might be in ways you don't suspect. Suppose problems in the refineries and distribution channels create a diesel fuel shortage expected to last three months. There is only enough fuel to support 1/2 the normal long-haul truck traffic for that time. Which items will get shipped, food or sporting goods? Food, right? (Well, we all hope so.) That's great unless you own the sporting goods store or you are a clerk there. Do you have savings to carry you through a three month layoff? What is the market for snow skis and baseball gloves going to be for the six months after such a problem? Might camping gear and supplies be a better use of shelf space during the time around Y2K? If so, might it make sense to shift emphasis now in order to establish yourself with both customers and suppliers?

Is anyone here looking at this from these (or similar) perspectives? Anyone?

-- Paul Neuhardt (, September 08, 1998.

A few medical scenarios.

If my pharmacy records get botched it's an irritation, but no big deal. I might have to get a new prescription for my asthma medication, but my case is relatively tame and I can get by without it if need be. On the other hand, I know at least two people who could be in serious trouble if the supply of asthma meds were to dry up for more than a month. They would be able to survive, but their activity level would have to be reduced to the point where neither would be able to continue holding their current jobs.

Imagine the problems of a diabetic who goes to the pharmacy only to find out that while there is plenty of insulin and syringes to administer it with, there is no record of a current prescription for those syringes? With poor planning, a visit to the ER, with all the costs and hassles that entails, may be the only way to survive that situation. What can you do to protect both yourself and your medical records, especially pharmecutical records?

Do you know where the local hospital is, and at least two routes to get there? If the phones are out and someone in your house has a medical emergency, could you get them to help without the benefit of an ambulance? Do you know basic CPR? If you live with a diabetic, do you know how to treat insulin shock? How about administering an insulin injection to an unconcious person? Would you know the proper dosage for that person?

-- Paul Neuhardt (, September 08, 1998.

Clean your furnace/chimney flue before October. (Avoids potential of chimney fire when used in Jan.)

Get finances on paper. Get ALL bills, insurance, stock certificates, savings and tax data on paper. I want to use checks+reg. mail to pay through Jan-Feb, others may disagree. Get off automatic deposit.

"Walk through" your daily life for one week. Write down interfaces and services at work and at home plus transportation. Plan through each leg (What if goes out?), then plan what you would do if it does go out for _____ days.

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (, September 08, 1998.

In Ed Yourdon's book _Time Bomb 2000_, he makes the terrific analogy for Y2K of the possibility of being attacked by 1000 gnats, 1000 mosquitoes, a dozen bees and one poisonous rattlesnake, all at one time. The 1000 gnats could be really annoying, the prospect of 100 mosquitoes all after you would AT LEAST make it seem prudent to stock up on mosquito repellant, a dozen bee stings COULD be fatal, and certainly anyone facing the possibility of a posonous rattlesnake bite would start looking darn hard for snakes! The point, of course, is that if we DON'T wake up to find that the world has gone to the hog trough overnight, with looting and martial law and all the things we fear most in the space of one day, it is absolutley the accumulation of small things that have the power to topple the world as we live today - like all those little Lilliputians took down big bad Gulliver. Non-survival things can absolutely BECOME survival issues, as many of you have said so well.

I'm afraid that our complacent lives are in for a good spring housecleaning, with all of us learning to be less dependent on systems and technology, and more dependent on ourselves and those we re-learn to trust for the actions with which they earn that trust. Please keep up the "non-survival" tips for people like me, so that I don't end up watching the really big things and getting strangled by the small ones!


-- Melissa (, September 08, 1998.

Equifax is a credit reporting agency recommended by "Consumer Reports" magazine. The cost for a copy of your credit report is $8. I just got a copy of mine today, and will get another one next year about this same time. It shows who you currently owe and how much, and also shows the accounts you've paid off. Maybe this will help if computer errors mess up your credit after 2000? The phone number for Equifax is 1-800-685-1111

-- Gayla Dunbar (, September 08, 1998.

Paul in another thread, "There is obvious disagreement with my position that survival level occurances are extremely unlikely, but that's my current position and I'm sticking to it until I get better evidence to the contrary. "

Paul in this thread," On the other hand, I know at least two people who could be in serious trouble if the supply of asthma meds were to dry up for more than a month. They would be able to survive, but their activity level would have to be reduced to the point where neither would be able to continue holding their current jobs. "

Paul, Paul, Paul,

You had better be careful the direction your mind wanders, you are dancing on the edge of that slippery slope. The medical example is a definite P.ersonal I.nfrastructure F.ailure.

-- Will Huett (, September 09, 1998.

To answer your question, I am already stockpiling my sons asthma medications. I have recently taken Red Cross Adult CPR and Standard First Aid, where I learned how to splint a broken leg (it's really easy, you just align it with the good leg and tie them together). I am within walking distance of a hospital and I have a toboggan that I could tie someone to and pull them to the hospital. I don't care about my credit rating because I pay cash. Naturally I keep all my bank statements.

-- Amy Leone (, September 09, 1998.

I too have noticed that Paul is on the "slippery slope." This thread proves he is more worried about Y2K than he leads us to believe. :) Good thread, Paul.

-- Dave (, September 09, 1998.

Good points by all. I can only point out the obvious: PRIORITIZE as according to YOUR beliefs and YOUR situation. If you see Y2K as causing maybe a couple of weeks of problems, and you are already living on a rural farm with an electric generator, stored food, private well, etc., then your approach to this is going to be a lot different from one who believes that the electric power will be shutdown for years and who lives in New York City.

-- Joe (, September 09, 1998.

I read you first thread start, though about it, and didn't respond. Glad to see you got this one going.

Good topic, good answers.

1. Paper copies of all records, including records of recent bills (electric, oil, credit cards, bank, passport, birth certificate, medical....including records from surgeon, credit ratings, security clearances.)

2. Have no special medical needs, although I'm approaching the need for laser eye surgery. Am trying to persuade the doctor to do it this year, don't want to be pushing against any deadline.

3. Have included medical needs in my home preparedness kit, including herbs and vitamins.

4. Signed up for first aid course.

5. Have begun resurecting my knowledge of radio, with hopes of getting ham license........used to do code at 30 wpm as military radio operator, can't do 2 now. Even if this fails, I'm trying to establish local CB communications through and with our local fire houses (volunteer, rural, emergency response units).

-- rocky knolls (, September 09, 1998.

Here is a "Countdown Checklist" by USA Today.

-- Gayla Dunbar (, September 09, 1998.

<< The medical example is a definite P.ersonal I.nfrastructure F.ailure. >>

Only for those with chronic medical conditions, a point which demonstrates that the point of infrastructure failure that a person can tolerate varies by circumstance. That in turn demonstrates why preparation is an individualized and highly personal activity. What is one person's severe failure is another person's vaguely interesting side note in the morning paper.

-- Paul Neuhardt (, September 09, 1998.

<< This thread proves he is more worried about Y2K than he leads us to believe. >>

Not necessarily. I have always wondered about the safety of electronic banking transactions post-Y2K. I posted a topic on that in April, long before everyone started using that dreaded P word to describe me. I still don't plan on using such methods post Y2K until I've seen others use them successfully first. As for some of the other things I mention, there really isn't a lot there that I don't feel is important even without Y2K. It's just that Y2K problems might make some of these things even more important.

I firmly believe that everyone should have some regular first-aid training. That goes double for anyone with children. Feeding anyone, especially children, medication without knowing what it is, what it treats, what the proper dosage is and the basic indications of adverse side effects is, IMHO, simply irresponsible. Knowing how to get to the hospital without an ambulance driving you there is a good idea no matter what. Understanding and being able to assist with the chronic health needs of family members is, to me, just part of being family. Since I've heard that anywhere from 20% to 60% of all people's credit reports have errors in them, checking up on your report once a year is just good self defense. And so on, and such forth.

Amy says "Naturally I keep all of my bank statements." Well Amy, I would agree with the word "naturally" except for one thing: I am shocked by the number of people I know who keep their statements and canceled checks only for as long as it takes to balance the statement. Once the numbers tie out it's trash city for the statements. That just doesn't make sense to me. It's come in handy more than once to be able to go back months or even years into my financial records. So my thought that it would be good practice to keep a paper trail on your banking transactions applies even without Y2K.

Sure, getting a statement from taxing authorities that your property taxes are current as of 11/99, or obtaining a complete copy of your medical records is above and beyond normal caution. But not by much. My point there would be twofold: There are a lot of things that people can do to protect themselves against Y2K that either they are already doing or that they probably should be doing. Furthermore, many of the preparations that don't fall into the realm of "everyday" tasks are neither far removed from the commonplace nor are they difficult to implement.

As for my sporting goods store example, I would love to say I thought it up, but I didn't. I got the idea from the owner of a small sporting goods shop nearby who is grappling with these questions. It is interesting to see how he may have found a way to protect his business by changing its emphasis while staying in the same basic industry. And, if camping gear were to prove less than lucrative he can always switch back to the old product line (or another new one) post-Y2K.

-- Paul Neuhardt (, September 09, 1998.

Good answers.

Paper records are going to be very important if computers trash database records. I'm going to make several photocopies and store them in widely separated places, in case a riot or something utterly unexpected destroys the master copy.

Apart from that, look to the essentials. You can perhaps survive a month without food, but a stockpile is cheap and has near-zero longterm cost because you eat it anyway. You're dead without water in three days, and sooner of subzero cold if without appropriate clothing. Take steps to make sure that you don't have to depend on supply utilities for water and warmth. Camping gear is quite cheap (until the panics start; it'll be hard to buy at any price in November '99). Ditto candles.

Make a will, and make sure the loved ones who benefit have copies in case the master is accidentally lost. This is *always* good advice; the fatal accident is always possible, Y2K may or may not increase the risk but surely can't decrease it! (Off-topic from personal experience: name the principal beneficiaries as executors, don't write a lawyer into it. Your beneficiaries can always employ a lawyer if they want or need to! NB this is assuming English law, and I am not a lawyer.)

-- Nigel Arnot (, September 10, 1998.

Besides taking a mental [and literal] walk around the house to inventory what's needed in terms of supplies, I've also considered entertainment, herbs, flavorings and spices (ever run out of garlic? or cinnamon? not a pretty sight when you're cooking) pet food, how much and what to stock up on for relatives and neighbors, and how to communicate Y2K to people who aren't already 'in the know'.

-- Karen Cook (, September 10, 1998.

Hi Karen, I consider anything with more than 3 ingredients (and that might include the microwave as one of the ingredients) "cooking" and not worth the effort. Instant coffee is okay (water, coffee, and a cup) but beyond that it's too much work. A can of soup, a loaf of bread, and ... as the Rubiyat said many years ago.

But thank you for the recommended spices.

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (, September 10, 1998.

Paul >> That in turn demonstrates why preparation is an individualized and highly personal activity. What is one person's severe failure is another person's vaguely interesting side note in the morning paper. >>

Yes, except for food and water.

-- Will Huett (, September 11, 1998.


<< Yes, except for food and water. >>

True, except we are talking about non-survival level issues here, so I really wasn't counting them.

-- Paul Neuhardt (, September 11, 1998.

Learning a little bit about first aid for pets might not be out of line for owners (or ownees, in the case of cats). And I'm concerned about the education of my children - I'm looking for good second-hand texts. Even if the University stays open, if there is massive economic dislocation, our preparations will likely be for naught. Another non-survival item I've picked up is hair cutting equipment, and I'm learning to use it (baldies be grateful ;-)).

-- Tricia the Canuck (, September 15, 1998.

<< Another non-survival item I've picked up is hair cutting equipment, and I'm learning to use it (baldies be grateful ;-)). >>

Let's not pick on the follicly challenged, now!!!!!


-- Paul Neuhardt (, September 15, 1998.

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