Sunday, August 1, 1999

Important answers to Y2K questions


By Kelly C. Bourne


Do you need to stockpile food, water, fuel and medicine in anticipation of the Millennium Crisis? I don't think so. It's quite possible that the Y2K situation will cause limited bottlenecks in the normal shipping and delivery systems of food and other consumer goods, but I think the word "stockpile" sounds much too drastic. It would be prudent to have enough food for a week or two, but I don't think it's necessary for people to accumulate six months or a year's worth of food. The odds of the Y2K causing a crisis for that long a period are very, very small.

"Gasoline kills! If not stored and handled properly the fumes can kill you or create an explosive environment."

It isn't talked about much, but there is a definite risk associated with storing large quantities of food, medicine, and fuel. Food can go bad if it isn't properly prepared and stored. Medicine loses its efficacy (potency) if it is held beyond its recommended date. Last, but certainly not least, is the concept of storing fuel. For many people fuel is synonymous with the gasoline that would be used in their cars or emergency generators. Gasoline kills! If not stored and handled properly the fumes can kill you or create an explosive environment. If you don't know what you are doing you could be playing with fire, literally!

Be safe instead of sorry. Prepare just as you would for severe weather. On the coasts, people know that during hurricane season they should have some extra food, candles and a tank full of gas in their cars. In the northern parts of the world people prepare in much the same way for a winter blizzard. This level of preparation should be adequate for the new millennium. One word of advice is this -- don't try to stock your pantry on December 30, 1999 -- do it in early December or even earlier.

Maintaining records

One concern that many people have is whether financial institutions, utilities and other creditors will lose their records due to Y2K related bugs. Will your mortgage company forget that the December 1999 mortgage payment was made? Will your utility claim you didn't pay the gas bill and turn off the gas during the coldest winter on record? Will your broker misplace the 1,000 shares of Consolidated Widgets, Inc you bought for your retirement? Will the cable company cut off your access to the sports channel right in the middle of the Orange Bowl because they lost your records?