Be prepared: A list of do's : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

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[The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: 9.19.99]

Be prepared: A list of do's

By Marilyn Geewax

Atlanta Journal-Constitution Staff Writer

Washington -- Don't panic, but get prepared. While the nation's basic infrastructure will function after Jan. 1, authorities say the Y2K computer bug is sure to cause some problems. The power could go out in one community, while the water system falters in another and traffic lights malfunction in still another. Because no one can say with certainty which systems might fail, "the basic message we are giving people is ... be prepared for an emergency," said Red Cross spokeswoman Leslie Credit. Start your preparations by figuring out who is going to be in your household between Dec. 31 and mid-January, and what each person's special needs will be. Then lay out a strategy for making sure everyone can stay hydrated, healthy and warm for up to two weeks. These are among the recommendations being made by mainstream agencies:




Local providers typically keep water flowing by using pumps and valves controlled by microprocessors and chips. Computers also regulate various aspects of water treatment, such as the addition of chlorine. In addition, Y2K-related power outages could cause a loss of heat that would allow pipes to freeze and burst.


Store water for each member of the household, one gallon per person per day. Storing water costs very little and is easy to do. Drinking water can be drawn from the tap and stored in clean plastic jugs with tight lids. Don't use rust-prone metal containers or heavy, breakable glass jugs. Don't fill jugs to the limit, in case the water freezes and expands.

Save water for bathing and flushing toilets in a large, clean container such as a new garbage can or a water bed.

Five-gallon containers are convenient and stackable, but don't forget that water is heavy -- 8 pounds a gallon. Filled containers must be stored on very sturdy shelves or on the floor. Water should not be stored where the temperature goes above 100 degrees or below 32 degrees. Keep water containers out of direct sunlight and away from chemicals, paints and fertilizers.


Start saving cleaned 2-liter drink containers and their lids. Find and clean containers that can be used for storing water for washing. Figure out where to safely store your water, and plan on filling the containers in November. Learn where your house's main water shutoff valve is located and how to operate it in the event of burst pipes.




Buying food at the grocery store may be difficult in the first few days of January because of power outages, traffic-light failures or public transportation delays. Also, you might need more food than usual in your home because of delayed school or workplace openings.


Store food for each member of the household, and figure out whether you will have any special needs. Will you need baby food for a visiting grandchild? Pet food? Do you have children with peanut allergies?

Your best choices will be canned and nonperishable foods that are tasty and don't require refrigeration (in case of a power outage) or cooking (in case the natural gas fails). So buy canned tuna, fruits, long-lasting fresh vegetables such as carrots and cauliflower, canned hams, peanut butter, crackers, fruit bars, trail mix, cereals, powdered milk, granola bars, cookies, canned beans and other vegetables.

It may be prudent to store an additional two weeks of "emergency" foods in case grocery prices shoot up in January because of supply disruptions. For example, Y2K problems in Latin America and the Caribbean could interrupt supplies of fruits and vegetables, making them expensive. For your reserves, have some dried fruits, as well as freeze-dried or dehydrated products with long shelf lives. Save any products that you don't use for Y2K for future emergencies.


Create a clean, safe storage area in your home and start putting canned and packaged foods there. Mark the purchase date on the products so that you remember to eat your oldest foods first. (Most foods off grocery store shelves are good for six to 24 months.)

Don't wait until December to start shopping. Prices may be higher then because of Y2K stockpiling, as well as holiday demand. A few purchases each week over the next two months will be cheaper and will let you avoid last-minute "runs" on grocery stores.




Unfortunately, Y2K problems will be hitting at the coldest time of the year. That means homes could get very cold very fast in case of a loss of electrical power or interruptions in the delivery of gas, coal or oil. A lack of heat could be the most dangerous aspect of Y2K.


Every household should have a source of heat that does not rely on electricity or the delivery of fuel after mid-December. You don't need to heat the entire house, just an area big enough to keep everyone's teeth from chattering.

For homes with working fireplaces, the solution may seem simple: Buy a cord of wood. But in many modern homes, fireplaces are primarily decorative and allow most of the heat to go up the chimney. Fireplaces with heat reflectors and energy-efficient inserts keep rooms warmer. A wood stove, which puts out far more heat, can be installed.

Many don't have a fireplace and don't want a wood stove; they can use a kerosene space heater. But don't use a kerosene heater in a small room without ventilation; open a door to an adjoining room or open a window slightly.

For cooking, stock up on cans of Sterno, which contains jelled ethanol. A can will provide enough heat to warm a pan of soup or make a cup of tea. An outdoor propane or charcoal grill can work for cooking -- as long as you keep it outside. A grill used indoors can emit deadly fumes.


If you have a fireplace, look into purchasing a heat reflector or insert. Purchase a good-sized stack of hardwood and find a dry place to store it. Get a non-electric space heater if you need one, and buy the fuel for it now. Learn how to operate your heating source safely. Go to a camping goods store and buy Sterno cans. Make sure the propane tank on your outdoor grill is full.

Also, have several fire extinguishers in the house, as well as battery-operated smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.

Check your supplies of warm clothes and bedding. Make sure you'll have enough sleeping bags, hats, quilts, and gloves for everyone in the household.




Y2K problems could knock out electrical power during the darkest time of the year.


Flashlights are by far the safest way to light the night, especially in homes with children. Candles generally are not a good idea because they have open flames and generate relatively little light. Also, most candles are intended for decoration and burn out quickly. Kerosene lanterns can be a little smelly, but generate steady light.


Be sure you have plenty of flashlights and fresh batteries. Each time you go to the grocery store, pick up a few batteries so that you don't get hit with a big cost in December.




Because of traffic problems created by Y2K, it may be difficult to get to the doctor or pick up a prescription in early January.


People who need medications should get prescriptions filled before mid-December. Schedule any elective surgery before early December.


Schedule doctor appointments now so that you can be sure your prescriptions are up to date. Think about all of your health and body needs. For example, do you need contact lens solution, tampons or vitamins? Be sure to have an emergency medical kit with supplies such as bandages, antibiotic ointments, hydrogen peroxide, a thermometer and aspirin.




Although banks and other financial institutions appear to be among the most Y2K-ready businesses in the country, there is a potential for records to get mixed up.


Keep copies of important financial records in a dry, fireproof place. Your records should include insurance policies, mortgage information, reports on Social Security earnings, investment information, employer 401(k) statements and all banking documents. Get a copy of your credit report. Keep records of all of your ATM activities in December and January.


Start organizing your paperwork immediately. Submit a request for your earnings and benefits from the Social Security Administration by calling 1-800-772-1213 or going to the SSA Internet site


-- Linkmeister (, November 21, 1999


"New to the forum? Year 2000 resources, sites and links for research"

-- Linkmeister (, November 21, 1999.

Make sure your dogs have up to date Distemper shots. Distemper could flare up and is highly contagious.

Be sure your cats and any Chowchow are up to date on rabies because they are mousers, and a Chowchow especially will tear through floor boards and even walls (Serious structural damage) if it catches a scent.

-- Paula (, November 21, 1999.

Linkmeister, good for you. Time is short. Anybody inexperienced on this board who doesn't follow your leads (or links) is making a strategic error..

'Nuf said, except...well....perhaps.... "thank you."

-- (, November 21, 1999.

Cavil cavil cavil...

I got the fireplace adapter installed for my franklin this evening. it's a home-brew replacement for a factory lintel cap that installs inside the fireplace to cap off the damper throat and provide a smoke path from the stove to the chimney (yeah there is a piece of chimney pipe and an elbow and a couple pieces of fireproof board and a piece of FYRESTOP involved so it was messy). But it's done and draws like a champ.


-- Chuck, a night driver (, November 21, 1999.

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