Why Did We Worry About Y2K???

The short answer is: Murphy's Law. Whatever can go wrong will go wrong, in the worst possible way at the worst possible time.

We got lucky - nothing happened! BUT, it did point up a need for people of all walks of life to be prepared for disasters.

Gee, it looked bad! Why the hype?

  1. Some people couldn't get a grip. The end of the world was not here, Jesus was not coming, nobody was going to ride off on comets, Armageddon was not looming overhead. It's just that the infrastructure might have been disrupted for an unknown period of time (not forever) to some degree.

  2. It did, however, get many people to assess the Murphy factor in their life. Have you?? Where and in what way are you dependant on the computerized infrastructure? Do you have a contingency plan? How do you handle emergencies?

  3. Even now, you should take inventory on what (if any) emergency supplies you have. This is just plain good sense. Mother Nature can be a 14K b***h, and will always catch people with their figurative pants down. See some of the news reports in the last year about floods, fires, ice storms, blizzards, tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc. if you don't believe me. Emergency preparedness is not just a one-time deal.

  4. Even though Y2K is a non-event, you still should make a "disaster plan", and then do it. Plan for one to three months worth of food staples in your cupboards and storage. This has the added benefit of, if you come on "tight" times, you can still eat. It may not be interesting food, but it helps (I know). This is just plain common sense. Y2K was NOT the only possible emergency around.

You're Saying "Don't Panic, But Do This Panic Stuff"??

*sigh* I'm saying "Be prepared in your life for whatever happens." Yes, this means disaster planning, emergency planning, and personal safety and "survival" awareness. You don't have to be a militia kook with an AK47 to be prepared for life's emergencies. A habit of emergency preparedness will serve you well no matter where you live. If you are prepared, you can help others.

One job I had was as a safety administrator for a company. We had regular "earthquake awareness" and "disaster preparedness" campaigns. Interest in seriously preparing for anything more than a 24 hour power outage was non-existant. Dumb. A major disaster is going to shut a lot of things down for more than 24 hours. Ask anyone who's been hit by one.

The Silver Lining to the "Doomsday" Cloud...

The entire Y2K mess had, IMO, a big silver lining: It promoted an awareness of how dependant we are on the infrastructure. It also promoted disaster preparation in people who hadn't previously prepared for anything but minor emergencies, if at all.

People who are prepared themselves for big problems can often help others with smaller problems. I've several times reached into my food stores to give food to friends who are on the short end of the financial stick. I regularly make sure that my friends have at least some emergency lighting (candles, oil lamps). I sometimes even have a spare campstove lying around.


The hard, cold fact is: EVERYONE NEEDS TO PREPARE FOR EMERGENCIES! I don't really care what the emergency is, or how long it lasts. Earthquakes, fires, floods, whatever! That's why we have organizations like FEMA, and the Red Cross. They encourage people to be prepared, and then they can help out with the things that individuals can't do. The less "individual" supply bailout that FEMA has to do, the more money is available to put things right again.

Yes, our infrastructure is great, and usually quite reliable and stable. But disaster relief people, and insurance claims adjustors, know just how nasty it can be when the infrastructure is disrupted or breaks down.

All Right, What Should I Stock??

That is a matter of personal preference. You want to keep it consistant with the stuff you eat everyday (no, McDonalds burgers DON'T store well...) That way, you can eat and replace it as part of your regular shopping. Think of it as having a higher "buy more" threshold on basic goods. That way it doesn't mess up your food budget (BTW, some foods in bulk are cheaper!) Here are some suggestions:

RiceBeansSplit Peas
Egg NoodlesCanned ChiliBottled Water
RaisinsVitaminsCanned Juice
FlourPancake MixBarley
Canned ChickenBottled Spaghetti SauceMacaroni & Cheese Mix
Cream of Mushroom SoupToilet PaperGarbage Bags
CandlesCanned VeggiesPeanut Butter
Jelly or JamUnopened "miracle whip" bottlesBouillon Cubes
CoffeeMore Bottled WaterChocolate
TeaInstant BeveragesCrackers
Campstove & FuelRain GearBasic Tools
Mylar "Emergency Blankets"First Aid KitPersonal Care Supplies
BatteriesOil LampsCamera & Film
Spices (big containers)Picnic SuppliesCamping Gear

That's the type of stuff I've stocked for years. If it stacks, stores, and is readily available, we store it. YMMV.

Why do you care?

Because I firmly believe in Murphy's law. And I firmly believe that the devastating effects of emergencies and disasters can be blunted by just a modicum of preparation on everyone's part. From a bout of unemployment to a massive earthquake, the preparations that I advocate will help a lot in smoothing the way toward the future.


Please feel free to e-mail me with questions or comments.

This page was created March 28, 2000. Page last changed/tweaked on 2/10/2003