On Moderate Preparation (edited repeat long)

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

In some earlier posts, I talked about "smart living." I use this catchprhase to describe living within one's means and avoiding the traps of instant gratification, consumer credit and "keeping up with the Jones." (What Thorstein Veblen called "pecuniary emulation" and "conspicuous consumption.)

Too often, our differing opinions on Y2K often overshadow our common ground on smart living. As a rough guess, I'd say 80% of Y2K "preparation" is just smart living. Of course, there are folks who take preparation to a level where it moves into homesteading, self reliance or survivalism. For example, I don't think smart living requires you to exist off the grid with a complete, independent power system.

In the closing days of Y2K, "smart living" become less relevant. If you have not paid down your debt by now, it may be difficult to manage in the next 22 days. There is time, however, to make at least the oft-recommended "storm" preparations. Y2K aside, every American is well served by having the ability to weather modest disruptions in basic services. I am confident Stan Faryna will continue posting his thoughtful "14 days of preparation" essay until the rollover.

At this late date, I am struck by the fact nearly all of the usual goods mentioned in Y2K preparation are widely available. Some pessimists predicted shortages. In general terms, these have no materialized. The average consumer can still buy a staggering array of "stuff." I am delighted to report Coscto now stocks my favorite tool, the Leatherman "Wave" and for much less than mine cost last year.

The exhortations of the homesteaders or survivalists are lost on most folks. It's a bit late to start digging a bunker for Y2K. Fortunately, I think many people just want a slightly enhanced sense of security. This is possible by taking some modest steps. For less than $500, the average family can implement many of Stan Faryna's suggestions and possibly sleep easier. Do I think "preps" will make the difference between life and death? No. They may, however, help someone weather a disturbance (Y2K or other) more comfortably.

From an ealier post (June 1999)...

"...Based on all the evidence thus far, I cannot find reasonble grounds to anticipate a nationwide lack of basic services (electricity, water, telecommunications) for an extended period of time. Now, we can debate if the grid will stay up... but I think the data so far suggests it will. Reports from these three sectors are positive and improving. Worst case Y2K scenarios are usually predicated on a loss of basic services. If the power stays on, folks, we have a solvable problem. Uncomfortable, maybe, but with power we have heat, hot water, refrigeration, cooking and information. In short, we have civilization.

With the grid intact, we are really talking about the economic impacts of computer-related failures, disruptions in the supply chain, etc. Now, even in this moderate-severe environment smart living will serve you pretty well.

First, you'll have money saved and be debt free. Trust me, debt collectors have functioned in the darkest days. No matter how bad it gets, no one is going to forget you owe them money.

If you have invested in your skills, you'll have a decent job... and you'll be able to find new work if you are laid off due to economic problems. Remember, during the height of the Great Depression the employment rate was 75%. Three out of four people had jobs... and most of us will work no matter what happens with Y2K.

If you are living smart, you'll have a tight budget, you'll know how to fix your own car and take care of small repair jobs around the house. You'll know how to find a bargain and how to buy in bulk; how to cook and bake. You'll be in good physical condition (if not disabled). You'll have friends and family to help. In the words of my great grandmother you will: "use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without."

If you want to prepare as if you are stocking Fort Apache, have at it. But remember, even remote outposts on the western frontier relied on trade. Someone else made their guns, iron cookpots, shoes, tack, etc. I have already talked about the myth of self sufficiency on an earlier post. I think it's better to see how interdependent we are and how much we rely on trade. Even if Y2K problems are horrible, our economy will still produce goods and services. And it will prioritize the goods and services necessary for basic living. Right now, only a small percentage of our GDP actually goes towards life sustaining commerce (leaving health care out of the picture for a moment). We spend staggering amounts on entertainment, luxury items, fast food, silly cars, etc. All of our productive capacity can be be redirected... even if diminished. Remember how we came together during the Second World War? Yes, there were victory gardens and ration cards. But we also won the war through sheer productive capacity. In reality, the Germans had better equipment... but we had much, much more. As much as any factor, capitalism won.

This is why I have faith in our nation of Yankee traders. Right now, while I am writing, someone is fixing a Y2K problem. Not because it has been ordered by the central government, not for charity or for amusement... but because he (or she) is free to work, free to profit, free to gain..."

Another early post (April 1999):

"There is a picture on the cover of "The Good Life," a classic in the homesteading genre. Scott Nearing is holding an axe. Mr. Nearing must have bought or bartered for the axe... the head was forged and ground at some distant plant. He and his wife, Helen, are both wearing "store bought" shoes and clothing. In truth, the Nearings were more "self reliant" than "self sufficient."

One might suggest this is just semantics, but I think it an important point. The jars filled with jelly and other wonders Bonnie Camp describes so beautifully--all manufactured in a glass plant. The sugar we use to make jams edible comes from overseas. If you have tried some wild berry jams without sugar, you know they need sugar.

Very few (if any) homesteaders have the ability to make forged steel tools. As I have pointed out, almost all the supplies required for homesteading (or Y2K preparation) are mass produced. No different than they were a hundred years ago.

My great grandmother's wood-burning cookstove was shipped out from some long departed company in Michigan. Her well-used cast iron pots and pans were store bought. My grandfather ran the local feedstore. While many families raised chickens, rabbits and hogs, they did not grow grain. It was shipped by rail from eastern Montana. In the Yankee tradition, we bought or bartered for good and services. Gardening and raising small stock mostly extended the family budget... as did working on the truck, splitting wood for heat and buying in bulk.

As one considers Y2K preparation, it is good to keep in mind the distinction between self-sufficient and self-reliant. Division of labor has made sense for centuries... and will continue to make sense no matter what your outlook. It is difficult to survive outside of a community where goods and services (like medical care) can be fairly traded.

Greater self-reliance can be a noble goal... when governed by common sense. Today you cannot raise vegetables (when you factor in your own labor) for less than you buy them at the local farmer's market. I still think a kitchen garden is a wonderful joy, but I decline to rationalize it on an economic basis.

It is important to look around and realize how much we depend on the goods and services provided by others. Even the most self reliant depend on others to bring goods to market... like Scott Nearing and his well-used axe. On a very small scale, this is the power of the free market.

When people begin to think they can be "self sufficient," they ignore the interdependence of the human community. For better or worse, we are in this together."

Finally, my own "prep" recommendations (May 1999):

1. Water storage: seven days.

Rationale: At one gallon per day per person, the average family of five can survive from the water in the water heater for at least a week. The first priority of any emergency response will be the restoration of water and power. Potable water can also be gathered from alternative sources. For the nervous optimist buy a small filtration unit. (By the way, if an area did not have water for seven days, sanitation would become a really big problem.)

2. Food storage: 30 days.

Rationale: Those who buy groceries in bulk are likely to have 30+ days in the pantry. For simple frugality, it makes sense to shop at Costco or another wholesale outlet regularly. Example of savings: two pounds of yeast for less than $3. A $300 Costco trip will feed a family of five for a month with modest reliance on rice and beans. Disruptions in the supply chain may impact the availability and PRICE of food, but it is highly unlikely that there would be NO food available for longer than 30 days.

On a side note, when hunting every fall, I carry Gaines Burgers as a survival food. Why? Because there is no way I am eating dog food unless it is a matter of survival. Just a thought.

3. Total Y2K preparation budget: No more than $1,000. (Non-camping families may increase to $2,000.)

Rationale: If you enjoy camping on a routine basis, you have most of the basics suggested by the Red Cross sleeping bags, lanterns, flashlights, first aid kit, etc. Unless you are a serious backpacker or mountaineer, you dont have to worry about weight and its the ultra-lightweight camping gear that costs big bucks. One of the best sources of quality, affordable outdoor gear is the Cabelas catalog. Ask for the Fall Master Catalog for best selection.

Another suggestion, if you are frugal, use 20 pound propane tanks instead of the over-priced camping bottles. Fill two 20-lb tanks and you will have cooking and light for several weeks. (A 20-lb propane tank (empty) is about $25 dollars at Costco.)

WARNING: Do not accrue debt to finance preparations. Cut up the charge cards, pay down your debt and build at least six months of savings into a liquid account. If you are worried about banking problems, request December statements and tap your savings to have cashiers checks issued for all of your January bills.

4. Total withdrawals from retirement funds: $0

Rationale: Nervous optimists can park their retirement funds in short-term T Bills without losing any money to taxes or penalties. You can still access your funds in all but a total collapse of the social/economic system. Even if we have the Great Depression II, youll be able to withdraw your money (and perhaps avoid the penalty!)

5. Firearms purchases: $0.

Rationale: If you havent found a reason to own a firearm yet, you might want to sit tight.

6. Relocation: No, unless you are living in a house too large/expensive for your earnings ability.

Rationale: The most likely Y2K risk is economic. Moving to a completely new location often means finding a new job. First in, first out. Downsizing to a smaller house in the same area, though, might allow you to keep your job, save more money and lower your risk.

7. Generator & Alternative Heating: No & Yes

You really don't need a generator unless you depend on an electric well pump or life sustaining medical equipment. As for alternative heat, it is wonderful to have options. If you do not have alternative heat, staying indoors shelters you from the elements. In a small room, body heat alone makes a substantial difference. Shared body heat is particularly good... but this is an individual choice. (chuckle)

8. Silver/Gold: No.

Rationale: A better investment is improving your skills and developing alternative career options. Your education is portable, always available and will last as long as you do. Unlike gold or silver, it cannot be taken from you."

-- Ken Decker (kcdecker@worldnet.att.net), December 09, 1999



Police Chief Posts an Excellent Y2K Alert

http://www.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl?msg_id= 001xp3

City of Hudson, Ohio, Police Department


Y2K Preparedness: City of Hudson

Click on...

Preparation For Residents



Theres a whole host of recommendations within this section to assist you in developing a fairly generalized plan of being able to provide for yourself and your family, as well as some of your neighbors who may find themselves ill-prepared in times of emergency. Once again, this is not an all-inclusive list of preparedness items required to sustain a personal comfort level of self-reliability. There will inevitably be various degrees of preparedness found throughout the community based on budget, availability of storage space, and your own personal philosophies as to what you believe is an appropriate level of preparedness. Regardless of the number of days you plan on being self-reliant, be it a recommended minimum of 14 days on up to perhaps 30 days or longer, by following these guidelines you should be feeling significantly more confident to successfully contend with any crisis or calamity that may find its way to our community. Were talking about taking fear, panic, and concern normally associated with crises and transforming them into a creative and effective action plan. We, as a community, are up to that challenge!

So, what exactly do I consider having in my preparedness kit?

FOOD: Extra canned goods, freeze dried foods, dehydrated foods, and other packaged foods with a long shelf life that dont require refrigeration prior to opening. How much? Recommended 3 days to as much as 30 days' worth. When do I make my purchases? Start immediately and build up your reserves over the course of several weeks, if not a few months. Remember, you can always use these products and they wont go to waste. Develop a system of rotation whereby you utilize your oldest purchases first and replenish your supplies promptly when next you grocery shop. Make sure you have a manual can opener!

WATER: Some bottled water stored in a cool dry location within your home is a vitally important aspect of any preparedness pantry and should regularly be utilized and replaced in rotation to assure freshness. Two-liter plastic pop bottles, thoroughly rinsed out, filled with tap water, treated with chlorine bleach to kill any bacteria present and prevent future bacteria growth. Use un-scented chlorine bleach to treat the water as follows: 8 eyedropper drops per gallon; 1/2 teaspoon per five gallons. Rotate and replace your water every three months to ensure the bleach is working at full strength. After treatment, tightly re-seal the bottle cap. This will provide you with water for drinking, washing, flushing toilets, etc.

In an emergency situation you also have, hidden from view, usable water reserves in your hot water tank, as well as the water awaiting usage in your plumbing. (There are several home repair manuals available at the library and various Internet sites that can easily guide you, step by step, to safely draw from these usable water sources.)

How much will I need? Plan on one gallon of water, per person, per day. If you have a family of four it would require having 4 gallons of available water per day multiplied by whatever number of days you prefer to have available. Once again, a minimum 3-day reserve is recommended on up to 30 days worth. As a safety issue, keep in mind that water is extremely heavy and takes up a considerable amount of storage space, so choose your amounts and storage containers carefully so as to prevent injury.

When should I begin storing some emergency water? Start now and get yourself into a regular rotation of use and replenishment so that it will be available whenever you need it.


Assuming that electricity, water, natural gas, waste water treatment and telecommunications could be disrupted at any time year round due to a weather-related calamity, construction accident, or other man- made disaster, a generous supply of the following items are great to have available in larger quantities in the event they are needed:

Paper plates, cups, and plastic utensils (to conserve water)
Aluminum foil
Extra toilet paper
Extra paper towels
Heavy duty plastic garbage bags
Waterless soaps
Extra firewood
Plenty of spare batteries
A supply of flashlights

(Please also refer to all previously mentioned suggestions.)

Last, but certainly not least, consider the purchase of a cellular phone as a back-up to your home system. These phones are relatively inexpensive to lease or buy, and they provide a certain level of reassurance from a safety and security perspective while traveling in your car and out and about. Consider buying a spare battery with your cellular phone as back-up.


-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), December 09, 1999.

Whoa Ken, way to aggravate both sides with all that balance and rationality. ;)

-- Servant (public_service@yahoo.com), December 09, 1999.

Aw, how sweet.

here's some additional cool ideas from the Denver Post.

Attacking Y2K with ingenuity

Everyday items come to rescue if Jan. 1 keeps us in the dark
By Jack Cox 
Denver Post Staff Writer 

Dec. 7 - With the Y2K bug still at large and nobody quite sure what systems are infected, it's time to review the list of household items that can come in handy if everything fades to black.

Would you believe rubbing alcohol and potato chips?

"Everything people need - water, shelter, food and heat - is available, just by thinking out of the box a little bit,'' says Robin Blankenship, a primitive-skills expert who runs the Earth Knack school in Crestone with her husband, Bob.

For example, she points out, an ordinary coffee can can be pressed into service as a stove in the same way that a dime can be used as a makeshift screwdriver.

Similarly, a plastic garbage bag can be used as a windbreaker, blanket or container to melt snow, says Art Seely, director of the Snow Operations Training Center, a Littleton-based survival school.

And in an emergency, adds Papa-Bear Whitmore, proprietor of the Wilderness Institute of Survival Education in Wheat Ridge, a water bed can provide water for flushing toilets or washing dishes (though not for drinking, since it normally contains anti-bacterial additives that could be toxic).

"The biggest problem I find is that most people totally underestimate their need for water,'' says Whitmore, who has taught survival skills to clients ranging from Drug Enforcement Administration pilots to oil exploration crews in the Canadian Arctic.

"For drinking water alone, you should have a minimum - and this is minimum - of two to three quarts per person per day. Plus, you need water for cooking,'' he says. "And for a family of four, you should figure on an additional 10 gallons a day for flushing. Hey, that's a lot of water.''

Many Americans may be planning to store water in their bathtubs in case supplies are cut off by a Y2K-related problem at year's end, he notes. But that approach won't work in the event of a disruption caused by an extended cold spell, broken water main or similar emergency at some later date.

"The thing is, you're not going to have any warning,'' Whitmore says. "If the power does go out, the water is going to stop, too, because the pumps are powered by electricity.''

For this reason, he recommends storing water in jugs of the type used in watercoolers, in the 3-gallon plastic jugs available in supermarkets or in camp coolers, large plastic wastebaskets or similar containers. Trying to rely on cases of 1-liter bottles is "too expensive for that kind of quantity,'' he advises.

In a crisis situation, Whitmore notes, a household can tap the water in tanks atop toilets and in water heaters, which typically hold 30 to 40 gallons. But the water in a toilet bowl should not be used for drinking, he stresses, and the sediment in a water heater should be flushed out before it is drained.

"You can't use water from your car radiator because the antifreeze in it is poisonous,'' Whitmore adds. "And it's impossible to purify it by boiling, because the water would boil off at the same time as the ethylene glycol.''

Another source of water, of course, is snow, which can be melted in a garbage bag hung in a car by means of a rolled-up window.

"It takes twice as much energy to melt snow as ice, so use icicles or compressed snowballs, or look for ice at the bottom of a snowdrift that's been there at least a week,'' suggests Seely, who teaches survival skills to power-line and pipeline crews in this country and abroad.

"You can let the water dribble out by tearing off a corner at the bottom of the bag,'' he notes. "But leave some of the water in the bag to help melt the rest, and when you're done, raise the corner to the same level as the top so it won't drip.''

It's especially important to drink plenty of water in cold weather, Seely points out, because dehydration brings on hypothermia - a potentially fatal drop in body temperature - faster than any other predisposing factor.

"The loss of just one pint of bodily fluid makes you 50 percent more susceptible,'' he says, citing research originally performed by the Tri-County Health Department in metro Denver.

For heating water in an emergency, Whitmore suggests a propane-fueled camp stove, which should be used only sparingly - and only in a garage or room with adequate ventilation and a carbon monoxide detector. (A stove fueled with white gas, which produces toxic amounts of CO, should only be operated outdoors.)

Battery-powered CO detectors, sold mainly in hardware stores, do the best job of alerting people to the presence of the odorless, invisible gas, he says. But less expensive chemically activated detectors, designed for use in recreational vehicles and airplanes, are acceptable for temporary use. Available in auto parts stores for under $5, they turn from green to black when CO levels become dangerous and are good for 30 days after being unsealed.

Blankenship, who teaches Stone Age living skills like hide tanning and arrow-making, says a miniature woodstove can readily be made from a coffee can with a slot cut into the side of the base to allow sticks, pieces of cardboard or twisted scraps of paper to be inserted for fuel.

"It boils water really fast,'' she reports.

In a more civilized version of the same idea, Seely notes that a coffee can becomes a makeshift heater when it is: 1) packed with a roll of toilet paper with the cardboard center pulled out, and 2) filled with a pint of isopropyl alcohol. (Use the 70 percent strength alcohol, which gives off a visible flame; the higher-strength kind burns invisibly, making it trickier to handle.)

"Give the alcohol 10 minutes to soak in, and then light it,'' Seely advises. "If you're in a car, and it's zero degrees outside, and you burn it for 5 minutes on and 15 minutes off, it will keep the interior temperature at 68 degrees for 24 hours before it runs out.''

The heater is safe to use in a confined space because the rubbing alcohol produces only carbon dioxide and water when burned, he notes. And because the bottom of the can stays cool, it can be placed on a car's transmission hump or any other level surface where the flame won't set anything else afire.

The coffee-can heater, Seely says, was invented about 10 years ago by a home economics teacher in Utah and is "far and away the most efficient heat source I've ever seen - as well as the cheapest.''

No matches to light such a heater? No problem, he says. Ignite a clump of paper towel, cotton or lint - even a potato chip or an E-Z wipe - with the help of a piece of steel wool and a pair of flashlight batteries.

Hold the batteries together one above the other, as they are normally in operation, and use the clump of wire to connect the negative terminal of the lower cell to the positive of the upper. This will either cause a short circuit, producing a spark, or will overheat one of the strands, causing a redhot glow - either of which can ignite the tinder.

If these materials are unavailable, try connecting a thin wire to the terminals of a car battery to produce a spark or heat in a similar way.

On a bright sunny day, you can generate enough heat to start a fire by using a flashlight reflector (with the bulb removed) to concentrate the sun's rays on a cigarette or other tinder placed in the opening. Or you can open a camera and use the lens (with the shutter release held open) to produce a pinpoint of heat in the same way as with a magnifying glass.

If you're stranded in a car without the makings for a heater or without enough gasoline to keep the car's heater going, you can stay comfortable even in subfreezing weather by using cheap plastic space blankets to insulate the interior.

Put one space blanket over the seats, tape another to the ceiling (with low-temperature electrical tape, preferably) and cut a third in two, placing one half over each door - slipping it through the frame, if necessary, to keep it in place. Then, Seeley advises, crack the window on the downwind side, to allow moisture to escape.

Two people in an environment like this will create 60-degree warmth when the outside temperature is 10 degrees, "and at 60 degrees in a survival situation, you're doing great,'' he says.

In a home where the furnace has gone off because of an electrical outage, people can stay comparatively warm simply by moving into one room together and closing it off from the rest of the house.

"Body heat is an option if you can get enough people together,'' says Blankenship. "And it's pretty amazing how quickly you can adjust to a small space.''

As for light sources in a blackout, flashlights and candles are the most convenient - but they need to be stored "in a place where you can reach out and grab them instantly,'' stresses Whitmore. Blankenship says a makeshift lamp can be fashioned out of a glass bowl of olive oil or cooking oil, plus a wick made from a twisted strip of shoelace and held atop the liquid with paper clips.

"That makes a great light, and it burns a long time,'' she says. Food

If food supplies run low and the stores are closed, she recommends scouting one's yard for edible plants - such as the leaves of common mullein, which can be found all over the Front Range and can be used to make tea.

"Most of the weeds people are trying to eradicate, especially on the south side of the foundation, are edible, and some can be used for medicinal purposes,'' she says.

In a worst-case scenario, you may even try trapping wild game, such as birds, squirrels, rabbits or even prairie dogs, which are "absolutely wonderful to eat,'' according to Whitmore.

Blankenship says it's possible to catch an animal with a simple snare attached to something as commonplace as a balcony railing, with bird seed for bait. But make the snare out of wire, such as the kind used to hang pictures.

"If you use string, they can chew right through it,'' she reports.

-- lisa (lisa@work.now), December 09, 1999.


[Fair Use: For Educational/Research Purposes Only]

[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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 www.socialsecurity.gov.


-- Linkmeister (link@librarian.edu), December 09, 1999.

Here's Decker's original thread from May of this year. Many long-time regulars replied to the original, a number of whom now post only rarely or not at all (for a variety of reasons).


-- Take a trip (down@memory.lane), December 09, 1999.

And for god's sake as well as the defence of your family go to K-mart and spend $200 bucks on a shotgun and 50 shotshells.

-- zoobie (zoobiezoob@yahoo.com), December 09, 1999.

I must say I agree with Ken Decker in the most sincere fashion -- in that my own actions and preparations agree with his recommendations in almost every particular.


We are storing more like 14 days worth of water. The rationale is that water is *exceptionally important* and both containers and water can be had for a song. We have adequate storage in the basement.

We are storing more like 4 months worth of food. The rationale is that there is very little penalty to storing food in amounts that we would normally use within a year or 18 months of putting it by. Food is a basic hedge against many kinds of misfortune. Since we had both storage space and could spend the money without incurring debt, it seemed wise to go ahead and stock up. In a non-Y2K year, we would usually have about 2 months of food in the pantry anyway.

Concerning "wise living", I can recommend it wholeheartedly. The ability to live frugally and save money eventually opens up one's options in life enormously. Incurring debt for things you can live without takes you through the funnel in the opposite direction -- one's options get narrower and narrower. One hundred years ago every American family knew this. Nowadays, fewer and fewer Americans seem to understand these simple principles. When you lose self-control, you no longer can choose your direction.

-- Brian McLaughlin (brianm@ims.com), December 09, 1999.

Ken Decker: "You have an event coming that makes the Great Depression look like a walk in the park" (May 21,1999)

This is a very ominous (economic) prediction...would you kindly provide the details of your thoughts on this?

-- Sceptic (Economics@Student.com), December 09, 1999.

Brian... I appreciate your courteous remarks. Skeptic... Singular not plural. I meant YOU as in the person I was directly speaking to not "you" as in "everyone." I have never suggested Y2K will be worse than the Great Depression. In fact, my prediction are relatively firm... sharp recession partly due to Y2K and subsequent recovery. Hope this helps.

-- Ken Decker (kcdecker@worldnet.att.net), December 09, 1999.


FINALLY, something great and new! I thought I'd seen every cool thing in this general area... That article is a keeper!

-- Count Vronsky (vronsky@anna.lit), December 09, 1999.

De nada, Count.

-- lisa (lisa@work.now), December 09, 1999.

Mr. Decker, How 'sharp' and, perhaps more important, how wide (in time) a recession would you predict? World-wide or spotty? What do you feel will cause this--lowered business activity & profits, supply chain disruptions or ??? And the really big question...when do you feel such a recession might be noticed (and featured on the nightly CNN, etc. business reports)?

-- Sceptic (Economics@Student.com), December 09, 1999.

Ken, mostly agree with your point about moderate preparations. No need to buy the pallet-load of MRE's and .223 ammo to protect it. Do think that 7-days worth of water is a bit on the light side -- I think the Red Cross traditional 2-weeks should be a minimum.

Lisa, thanks for the link to the Denver Post article. Lot's of ideas to consider.


-- Mikey2k (mikey2k@he.wont.eat.it), December 10, 1999.

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