Take Action

What you decide to do depends on what you honestly think will happen.  I have heard of some people who are taking drastic action, moving to rural areas, putting aside two years worth of food, stockpiling equipment and generators.  These are the bomb shelter builders of the 1990's. 

To those fans of Armageddon who believe it's all too real: Take note.  At Heritage Farms 2000, a 500-acre plot of homesites and farmland for 500 families in South Dakota, people building a "model rural village" hope to outlast Y2K-related calamities by creating a community based on farming, bartering, and natural energy harnessing.
           -Software Magazine, 7/15/98

I do believe that there will be some problems related to the Year 2000 crisis, but I don't believe that society as we know it is finished.  Your bank will probably stay open.  Your ATM, however, may be down for a few days.  Electronic transfers will probably be delayed, but your money will not be lost.  Power may go out briefly, sporadically, especially if the NRC decides to shut down nuclear power plants for a few days, reducing the power available in the grid.  (People in the north may also lose power due to solar storms.)  You are more likely to get a bizarre bill than lose your lights.

I think that some stores will have temporary problems stocking their shelves.   Problems with just-in-time ordering systems may be exacerbated by runs on groceries toward the end of 1999, as people begin to panic.  But listen to the words of Y2K guru Peter de Jager:

Don't misunderstand me. I'm not against contingency plans for applications and/or services. I live in Canada and they have lots of snow up here. It gets rudely cold in winter. Having a generator in the garage has always been a good idea.

If I go for a long drive with my family in the dead of winter, it is irresponsible for me as a parent not to have some emergency supplies in the trunk.
     -Peter de Jager,
      You're Sick of the Game! Well, Now, That's a Shame
(link no longer valid) 

Here are my recommendations based on my knowledge of earthquakes and earthquake preparedness:

5-10 gal. gasoline
first aid kit
basic pharmaceuticals
2 months worth of any prescriptions
blankets and sweaters
work boots or sneakers (broken in!!!)
work gloves
latex gloves
hat and bandanna or ponytail holders
2 weeks worth of food
manual can opener
5 gal. water/person (standard is gal/person/day)
50 yard strength trash bags
            (or 20 + chemical toilet)
plastic utensils/paper plates for 3 meals/day for two weeks
real knives
scissors (utility and bandage)
sanitary napkins (they make excellent pressure bandages)
chlorine bleach
notebook and pens (here's what to write)
utility knife or Swiss Army knife
AM/FM radio (and ham radio if you are licensed)
batteries for radios and flashlights
liquid dish detergent
kerosene lantern and kerosene
candles and strike-anywhere matches and jars
            (stored in a waterproof container)
1 gal sealable plastic bags
plywood sheets sufficient to board up your windows
hammer and nails for above
needles and thread
twine and string
bungee cords
antiseptic hand lotion
baby wipes

For earthquakes, include:

monkey wrench or slotted gas wrench
            (wired to gas pipeline near the valve)
camp stove or barbecue and briquets (2 bags minimum)
rubbing alcohol
32-gallon trash barrel with lid

  pet   water
  rodent/reptile   .5 gal
  cat   1 gal
  small dog   2 gal
  med dog   3 gal
  large dog   5 gal

You may also need:

fire wood
pet food and leash/carrier
water for pet
blankets for pets
spare eyeglasses

Here's an idea.  When you get new glasses, put the old ones in your emergency kit.  If you wear contacts, keep a pair of glasses in your kit.   It will probably be too dirty (especially after an earthquake) to wear contacts.


Let's be realistic here.  There are always baby booms nine months after blackouts.  If you're heterosexual, likely to find yourself confined with adult members of the opposite sex, and not interested in increasing the size of your family, take precautions beforehand.

Now, obviously it is expensive to accumulate this stuff.  Well, relax, we have almost 18 months to do it.  We'll spread the expense over those months and by December of 1999, you'll be prepared to face a reasonably sized crisis. 

We'll start with the non-perishables, like work gloves, and we won't stock up on consumables until the late summer of 1999.  This is because consumables have a limited shelf life.  Water should only be stored for six months at a time.  Canned meats are good for about eight months, and canned vegetables are usually good for two years.   Batteries can lose power even when not in use.  (Of course, we'll be planting a garden this winter and canning all next summer.) 

One caveat to this.  As we approach the end of 1999, be prepared for other people to start panicking.  If there is a general panic, there may be a run on the grocery stores.  I don't want you to lose out just because you are stocking up in a rational, orderly manner.  I suggest that you print out the list here around July of 1999 (when we will begin buying food anyway) and carry it in the glove compartment of your car, just in case things get out of hand in your area.

This calendar is divided into bi-weekly sections.  This is mostly for my convenience, as I get paid bi-weekly.  On each section, we'll talk about what we are doing and why.  Or you can go here for a complete list.


Lauren Eve Pomerantz
August 1998
last updated 15 August 2007