I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO: Basic Y2K Preparation Thread for Newbies

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Preparing for Y2K breakdown can be overwhelming to people who have just learned about the late start and slow progress of profitable and government organizations in dealing with their Y2K technology problems. Though there is not much time for those who would like to get ready, newbies need to "prep smart;" it is important that they concentrate on first things (or the basics of survival): shelter, heat, water, and food. Without these first things, one's chances of surviving can be reduced to hours (depending on weather). Focusing on first things is also a lot easier than thinking about and shopping for   everything you might want to have to make your lives more comfortable whatever might happen. Once these first things are in place, the newbie can proceed to the second order of preparations. And they will proceed from first things to the second order with a lot less anxiety about the safety of themselves and their family.

In this message, I will cover the following topics and subtopics

There is a total of seven topics and subtopics (including the introduction) and each topic should take less than two (2) minutes to read. Generally speaking, there is a lot to cover, too much to put into one thread and expect someone to read down to the bottom. This message won't cover everything you need to know, but my intention here is to help you think about these topics and develop a plan of action for making preparations or helping someone else make preparations as quickly as possible.

The minimum of preparation should be for 14 days for you, your family, your pets, and whoever you know that may come to depend upon you in hard times. This 14 day recommendation is based on an assumption that public shelters can be organized and operating in a two week period in the event of intensive, wide-spread need for assistance in your local area, region, and nationally. Alternately, you may decide to prepare in such a way that you do not need to evacuate to a public shelter. Many on this forum are making such preparations.


Shelter, Heat, Water, and Food. Without these first things, one's chances of surviving can be reduced to hours (depending on weather).  Most people have a shelter (they can "shelter in place" at their house, apartment, etc. If things get really bad (and I don't expect them to), you may need to make plans for a fall back shelter whether that includes seeking a public shelter (contact your local red cross unit and ask them what they their contingency plans might include), going to a neighbor or relative's home, or, generally, bugging out. Bugging out has been discussed in a number of threads (now located in the archives of the Timebomb 2000 discussion forum). If the extent of a disaster is such that you will be bugging out, you should now begin to coordinate your bug out plans with others in your local area, outer lyings areas, and elsewhere.

First Things: Heat: Introduction

Heat may or may not be a serious concern. It depends on where you live and how cold the weather gets around you, how well insulated your house is, and how much air gets in and out of the house. Where I live it seems to rarely get down to 20 degrees (30 being freezing).  Still, I find that my body temperature drops when I sleep and I am uncomfortable to sleep in less than 50 degrees with a good down comforter. I want to stay warm and get sleep-- whatever may happen.  I say that the solution or solutions will vary according to how long you guess that the power will be out, how long you will weather  persisting power outages in your home, and what you'll do if you bug out. I am told that over time, your body will adjust to colder temperatures (some number of degrees less than you normally prefer.  Nonetheless, can you make it 14 days?

First Things: Heat: Keeping Warm

There are lots of ways you can keep warm: wear warm clothing, wrap yourself up in blankets, fire up a wood/coal stove, a propane stove, or a kerosene heater, and good old emergency fall backs (huddling around a kerosene lamp or lantern). Wood stoves are the most expensive option; warm clothes are the cheapest solution. If you get a wood stove, for example, you also have to get the firewood and chop it up to the right size. This could be a $US 2000 or more proposition. A propane stove or kerosene heater are more affordable (usually not more than $US 250), but require ventillation, thus they may reduce the heating effectiveness of the fuel and require more fuel to balance out the loss of heat through ventillation. Some kerosene lamps may keep you warm in a tight space (like a bathroom) such as an Aladdin Lamp, Coleman lantern, or Petromax lantern. Wool blankets (Pendleton and Hudson's Bay Company have been recommended) and down comforters may help you get through high 20s and 30 degree nights. For clothes, wool is fantastic and the other cold  weather materials used in snow suits, winter jackets, etc. Don't forget socks and hats.

First Things: Heat: Links

Brian's Preparation Archives: Posts on Heating

Five essentials to getting the most out of your woodpile

Chimney Safety Institute of America



First Things: Water: Introduction

You can go three days without water, experts say. I found that I had a hard time on one hike in the Sierras after about 4 hours since I had had my last gulp of water. Probably, I was dehydrated before starting out. I was so desparate that I drank right out of a stream and was very lucky not to get anything. So from now on, you should consciously keep hydrated. That means a minimum of eight cups of cool, refreshing water not including what's in the caffeinated drinks and sodas that you drink.  You'll also need to figure out how much water you need to store up, how to have access to it (well or whatever), or how to filter/distill it.  Will you have water for 14 days?

First Things: Water: How much?

The experts say that you need one gallon of water per day. I say that the number of gallons you need will vary and vary according to how long you guess that water will be out, how long you will weather out persisting water outages in your home, and what you'll do if you bug out. Let's start with 14 days of water after which we would all hope that the worst was over. Some of you will be amazed at how much water you would want (and still wish that you had lots more water!). Try to guess how much water you go through in an average day. And just because you don't do the dishes or laundry doesn't mean that your water use isn't many many gallons.

You'll need water for everyone in your house and whoever joins you to drink, bathe, wash dishes, flush toilets, and possibly wash some clothes like undergarments. Figure on one gallon per person per day for drinking and
washing dishes, 5 gallons per day per flush, and about 5 gallons per day for a quarter load of hand-washed undergarments. Therefore, a party of five flushing the toilet three times per day and with one quarter load of
undergarments to wash will need 70 gallons for drinking and washing dishes, 210 gallons for flushing the toilets, and 70 gallons for clothes washing. That's a total of 350 gallons of water (stored in seven 55 gallon barrels).

First Things: Water: Water Storage

Depending on where you live (house or apartment and city, suburb, or country), your access to water and storage capacity will vary. 350 gallons of water (stored in 55 gallon barrels in different rooms) will be about the maximum for second or higher floor apartments. Roughly, it is about 2,800 pounds of weight on that floor -- not to mention all your other stuff. If you are in a house or have a house with some yard, storage is less a problem and allows you several options: pond, above ground kiddie pool, well, etc. Let's say that the average cost of very large water storage solutions is about $US 1.00 per gallon. Generally, 55 gallon barrels for food and water storage can be obtained for less than $US 10.00 each from a soda, juice, or other beverage bottling plant. If you can not find 55 gallon water barrels for less than $25.00, I have made arrangements with an Amish farmer located in Lancaster, Pennsylvannia who will ship a 55 gallon barrel to you for $U.S. 8.00 plus postage and handling. I will make no commission on these sales. Contact me at info@giglobal.com for further information.

First Things: Water: Water Treatment

There is a lot of debate about treating tap water (if you get city water) for storage. So check with your water provider and find out if you need to add bleach. There are also other chemical agents used to treat water for
biological contaminants, but I would stick to bleach or use a filter (Katadyn, British Berkefield, Doulton, etc.)

Dry chlorine, also called calcium hypochlorite has the added benefit of extended shelf life. Providing it is kept dry, cool and in an airtight container, it may be stored up to 10 years with minimal degradation. If you want to keep chlorine in larger quantities, this is the item to store (according to Bingo1). It must be ONLY 65% calcium hypochlorite, no addtional anti-fungals or clarifiers. In an EXTREMELY well ventilated area, (Hint: OUTSIDE!) add and dissolve one heaping teaspoon of high-test granular calcium hypochlorite (approximately 1/4 ounce) for each two gallons of water. Five pounds of dry pool bleach costs about $10-15, which will make about 92 gallons of bleach, which will sterilize 706,560 gallons of clear water, or 353,280 gallons of cloudy water.

You can also get a filter such as the hand pump Katadyn or the British Berkefield Water Can. Filters can get very expensive, very fast. The Katafyn and Berkefield filters generally retail for $US 250.00.  On the other hand, you can take a filter with you, but not a well or several 55 gallons filled with water (each filled 55 gallon barrel weighs about 440 pounds). There are less expensive filters that generally use the same filter as the more expensive units. If you are interested in these less expensive filter units, you will need to evaluate which best serve you in your preparations.

First Things: Water: General Links

Brian's Preparation Archives: Posts on Water

Does anyone know where I can get the best price on water drums? An Older Forum Post.

Small problem with my 2 liter bottle water storage. An older Forum Post.

First Things: Water: Storage Links

Harvested Rainwater

Storing Water

How and where to Store Water

Collecting Rainwater


First Things: Water: Treatment Links

EPA: Emergency Disinfection of Drinking Water

Purifying Water

Basic Survival Rain Water Filter System

The Solar Puddle

Solar Water Distillation - Stills

Water Purification - Links from RMSG

First Things: Food: Introduction

While some can continue to exist up to a month without food (and really have irreversible internal damage and health problems for the rest of their life), most people don't like to skip more than one meal and can get quite cranky about it. Without power, the frigerator and freezer food will go bad and if the grocery store shelves are empty, you'll be glad that you filled up your pantry or whatever. In fact, you should plan on nutritiously balanced meals that are rich in calories, vitamins, nutrients, and other essential things -- while you can still can enjoy them (laughing). Once you have a handle on the nutritional requirements of your household, pets, and guests, you can figure out how this works out in terms of canned and dehydrated foods and specific foods that you, your family, your pets, and your guests normally eat. Make sure that you are fully aware of food allergies and preferences. While it may seem that you have enough food in the cupboard or pantry right now to feed you and yours, please do not underestimate the general unpleasantness of people and animals that do not eat well during a time of high stress.

First Things: Food: Calories and Nutrition

According to the USDA Food Pyramid, the daily ratio of servings of different food groups looks like this:

The USDA makes the following recommendations for caloric intake:

These caloric level recommendations were based on findings of the National Academy of Sciences and on caloric intakes reported by people in national food consumption surveys. Those that have pets will have a better idea of what amounts and kinds of foods are appropriate for their pets, therefore I am avoiding specific recommendations on nutrition and calorie requirements of animals. If you own pets, you may not be able to bring your pets to a public shelter. If facilities for pets have been set up, your pets may be kept separately in a stressful and infectious containment area. Therefore, you may decide on sheltering in place (in your home) or elsewhere and will need to make the appropriate preparations for more than 14 days.

First Things: Food: Storage

Canned foods have various expiration dates. Typically, a can of vegetables is good for two years from the date of its canning. Fruits are typically good for at least one year from the canning date. Grains, sugar, and the like will usually store a year or too in a good bucket that includes nitrogen and carbon dioxide packing. Buckets that include food sealed inside mylar liners are even better. Dehydrated canned foods generally have a shelf life of ten years or better. Of course, the shelf life of both canned foods and dehydrated canned foods will be effected positively or negatively by temperature and exposure to sunlight. It is generally recommended that you buy canned foods that you already eat, or that you start including canned foods in your meals in order to adjust to digestive challenges that may be posed by an intensive canned food diet. The ideal situation is if you can can and dehydrate your own foods. You know what you like and you know how to make it taste best to you.  Those that would like to incorporate living foods into their meals, might consider sprouting alfalfa and other seeds.

First Things: Food: Growing and Cooking

Food is a really big subject that includes growing and cooking in addition to storage, nutrition, and caloric requirements. Check out Sally's Y2K Kitchen for more information about cooking and planning Y2K meals. Check out Old Git's posts in the archives for a lot of info on growing things.

First Things: Food: General Links
Brian's Preparation Archives: Posts on Food

Brian's Preparation Archives: Posts on Food Storage

Brian's Preparation Archives: Posts on Growing Food

First Things: Food: Storage Links

The Food Storage FAQs Version 3.0

Walton Feed Info Page

Solar Food Drying

National Food Safety Database

North Dakota State University Publications

Food Preservation Data Base

Food Storage Life

First Things: Food: Related Books

Suzanne Ashworth, Seed to Seed

Mike and Nancy Bubel, Root Cellaring : Natural Cold Storage of Fruits and Vegetables

Jane Cooper, Woodstove Cookery: At Home on the Range

Barbara W. Ellis (Editor), The Organic Gardener's Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control

Carla Emery, Encyclopedia of Country Living

Dan Halacy, Cooking With the Sun : How to Build and Use Solar Cookers

Joseph C. Jenkins, The Humanure Handbook : A Guide to Composting Human Manure

Harriet Kofalk, Solar Cooking : A Primer/Cookbook

John J.Mettler , Jr., Basic Butchering of Livestock & Game

James Talmage Stevens, Making the Best of Basics: Family Preparedness Handbook

Steven Thomas, et al., Backyard Livestock : Raising Good Natural Food for Your Family


Time is short and your cash and credit may be in short supply too. How will you complete the first phase of your Y2K preparations? You know, first things.  It's likely that you won't if you don't it smartly. So be smart about
your preps; prep smartly. Get a pencil or pen and some paper (not now) and map out your wishes, goals, and budget. I know you can do it in your head, but you may not remember everything in a day or much less
a week. The first thing to do (once you have your list) is "x" out all your of wishes and re-evaluate your goals.


You know what you need (you wrote it down on paper), you know how much each category is generally going to cost (you wrote this down too), and you are ready to go out and spend your hard-earned cash.  Depending on how much personal time you have to hunt down a good bargain and how much money you can afford to spend, you may want to... CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING (said in a Bill Nye, the Science guy, booming voice) ...


Number 11. Ebay (non-electric music boxes, used Hudson Bay Company 100% wool blankets, etc.: Stan Faryna.

Number 10.
BJs, Big Lots, Costco, Kmart, Sam's Club, and Walmart (canned food and more: most yourdonites)

Number 9. Sales at the local grocery or other stores (canned food and more: most yourdonites)

Number 8. Estate Sales (fireplace inserts, wood stoves, garden tools, firewood: Stan Faryna)

Number 7. Yard/ Moving Sale (gas-kerosene cans, kerosene heaters, firewood, and more: Stan Faryna)

Number 6. Public Storage Auctions

Number 5. Dollar Store (Bingo1)

Number 4. Soda, juice, and food plant-factory (55 gallon food grade barrels: Bingo1 and many others)

Number 3. Store and Restaurant Dumpsters (food containers and more: Old Git)

Number 2. Local Dump and Junk Yards (canning jars and lids: Taz)

Number 1. Your local Y2K nut (they'll have water, food, heat, and more: Y2K Pro) "Just be sure you contact the appropriate authorities to confiscate their guns and ammunitions, first."

Got any other ideas for the top ten cheapest places to get stuff? Send me an email at info@giglobal.com.

Cheeping: Link

Best Preparation Buys: A Recent Forum Message

additional links

Girl Scout's on Y2K preparations
(contributed by FM)

Which Are Your Favorite Y2K Preparation Checklists? (For The New GI): A good forum thread
(contributed by Diane J. Squire)


Good luck to you all, and God bless you.

-- Stan Faryna (info@giglobal.com), June 26, 1999


Thanks again Stan...This basic post is, in my opinion, SO VERY valuable for newcomers. I appreciate your efforts in keeping it posted close to the top!!!

-- jeanne (jeanne@hurry.now), June 26, 1999.

For newcomers.

-- good (prep@info.ready), June 29, 1999.

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