Essay on Disaster Preparation from 1999 at

I would like people to read an essay I wrote way back in January of 1999.  It is called “Personal Preparations for Y2K.” It is dated January 26th, 1999.

I did try to post it directly, but my computer skills being what they are, it looked horrible. It may have to do with it being posted in HTML versus text. At any rate, please take a look at it, if you are wondering what you should do to prepare for a potential natural disaster.

I can eventually figure this computer stuff out<G> Here is the entire essay for you to read. In hindsight I feel I misjudged the extent of how Y2K really played out. The scale, scope and damage done was much less than many of us thought based on the sketchy information available to us. At any rate, there is still some good advice here for disaster preparation for people to use. The links didn’t come up as live unfortunately. I am also unsure if many, or any, of them are still up and running 13 years later.





*Personal Preparations for Y2K *


What is Likely to Happen – With less than one year to go, the

Outlines of Y2K are becoming clearer. The key thing to focus on is

what is referred to as the “Iron Triangle”. This name refers to the

Basis of our modern global advanced civilization; namely, Power

Grid, Telecommunications and Banking. Electricity in all its forms;

mass communications with all its devices. These are telephone, fax,     fiber optic, Satellite, radio and television.


Finally, fractional reserve banking in all its debt ridden glory;

its birth defected spawn fiat money in tow. After the Iron

Triangle comes what I have christened the three-legged stool.

Namely, basic government services at the federal level,  basic

Governmental services at the state, city and county level, and

Finally, the basic business infrastructure. Y2K is a direct threat to

basic electricity generation and distribution. Y2K is a direct

threat to all modern forms of communication. Y2K is a direct threat

to the global banking system. Period. It is my considered opinion,

based on nearly a year of diligent web research, that the three

legged stool legs will be sawed in half. In other words we will see

a generalized collapse in all United States governmental functions.

I also think we will see serious disruptions in the basic fabric of

society, what I call the physics of modern life. Will you

have water when you turn on the faucet, flush the toilet, or

electricity when you turn on the heater, a dial tone when you pick

up the phone-all the things modern American urban dwellers take for

granted? Believe or not as you wish; wrangle over whether Y2K is a

bump in the road or Mad Max time if you want. Disruptions and chaos

there will be, the only issue is how intense, how long-lasting, and

the most critical: how will people react to them. The last being the

most important single issue in my mind. And the answer to that won’t

be apparent until this time next year. This will be much too late

for any reasonable preparation, such as what follows.


Threat Assessment. Go to **

<; for a walk through of

some reasonable Y2K preparation levels. Personally, my inclination

is medium with a dash of worst case thrown in because I’m Scottish.

Medium is roughly 60 days food, water, sundries, toiletries with

weapons, ammo, silver, gold and non-hybrid seeds thrown in for worst



*How to Prepare for medium Y2K in a modern urban American city*


The best general list for short-term Y2K preparation I have found is


<; or the main page at



The following are simply my observations and opinions in order of

what I feel is important.


1. Mental attitude and physical conditioning My signature says it

all, but the will to survive is the most basic survival item.

Y2K isn’t about gloating and enjoying a global collapse. It is

about adapting to whatever comes and trying to help people and

in worst case create a new society.  As for physical

conditioning, try to get in some semblance of shape. At least

try to walk for 30 minutes a day.


2. Self-Protection-Loose the Rambo mentality and the desire for an

AR-15. A 12 gauge shotgun, Mossberg 500, Remington, or Winchester

Riot with 100 shells 00 Buck, 100 shells (25 per box) Pheasant,

100 shells Dove and Quail, and 100 shells Target Load is the

preferred urban self-defense weapon. Cost for the shotgun is

about $225 with the hunting loads at about $7 a box. The 00 buck

is more expensive (50 cents to $1 a round) and has more

penetrating power. The hunting loads are able to kill an

intruder and also not kill your neighbor if you live in an



The best handgun choice is a 357 Magnum with a four-inch barrel,

assuming you can handle the recoil. 100 rounds of 357 Magnum and

300 rounds of 38 Special for target practice. The Ruger 10/22 is

an excellent choice for a first weapon. Also 22 Long Rifle

handguns are useful for target practice, plinking, and in

general a lot of fun. But if you only get one weapon, get the 12

Gauge. And please don’t forget that any weapon is loaded until

you personally verify that it is not.


3. Shelter, Heat, Light and communication One of the big debates

on Y2K Use Net is about hordes of spiked headed urban refugees

swarming into the countryside looting, raping, and pillaging. The

idea being that leaving the city is better than staying in it.

Only if you don’t prepare says I. For starters, even an unheated

apartment is better shelter than being outside, unprotected from

the wind chill. And second, there are specific actions you can

take to increase your odds. Some of which are pretty simple.

Dressing warm and in layers and building a blanket fort over

Your bed is two that come to mind. Go to How to survival

documents at

for general info.


As far as light goes, there are several options: emergency

Candles, D battery operated lights, propane, oil, and kerosene

Lanterns. Be sure to buy extra wicks, mantles and use extreme

care with the fuel. Using propane or Kerosene heaters in an

enclosed apartment are the preferred method, just be sure and

keep the window cracked open for oxygen. Whatever you do be

careful, especially with candles and other open flames.


There are numerous small radios, CD players and Cassette players

that operates on D batteries. Or if you want to go hard-core, get

the $80 BayGen hand cranked radio. There are also various CB HAM

and hand-held radios for more advanced communications if the

Phones go dead. My point being, the worse thing to do is blindly

flee, unprepared and stressed out, into the wilderness.

Considering it will be early January, the first two weeks will

be easier in a well-stocked urban apartment than as a refugee.


4. Medical and Personal Sanitation-It is far more likely people

will die from disease and infection in a worst case Y2K

situation. For instance, more people will die from drinking

filthy water in Hurricane Mitch’s aftermath than were killed in

the actual hurricane in Central America. So a few dollars spent

on assembling a quality first aid kit is probably the best

single investment you can make. Obviously, if you have medical

problems that require specific medications it would be prudent

to secure at least several weeks supply. This medical “stash”

may just save your life in the event of any supply disruptions.

Rent the movie “Trigger Effect” and pay close attention to the

scene in the pharmacy, where our suburban hero tries to get baby

Medicine without a prescription. There are many places on the

Web which list good basic medical kits, so search around at Red

Cross ( or FEMA ( and get some idea.

Another good site for general Y2K preparation info is Noah’s Ark




Personal sanitation is an equally important, if somewhat more

distasteful subject. Some ideas include using plastic lined

buckets with lids as toilets, buying plenty of soap, towels,

general toiletries and sundries for emergency use. Many stores

offer travel size amounts of common toiletries and also foil

packaged cleaning wipes. So take a walk through your bathroom

and decide what you are likely to use and buy some extra. Don’t

forget to include laundry detergent (cold water type), clothes

pins and lines and possibly a bucket, or you can use your

Bathtub, for emergency clothes washing.


5. Water- You’ll notice that I placed water before food in

importance. You can live without breathing for three minutes.

You can live without water for three days, and without food for three weeks.

How to survival documents has a good section on emergency water

as does Federal Emergency Management Agency. In a nutshell, each

Adult needs one gallon a day for drinking and cooking. A small

Bath, brushing teeth etc. would require still more water. Keep

in mind, the average urban American adult uses 50 gallons of

water a day. It really isn’t as hard as it sounds to build up a

50 to 100 gallon supply of tap water. Coleman makes 5 gallon

containers that cost about $10 each. Save the Minute maid gallon

jugs, or other plastic or bottled fruit juices, and fill them

with tap water. A 200 gallon bladder is sold at

<; if you wish to go for a

larger supply. At any rate, you should always keep a minimum of

50 gallons of stored tap water on hand regardless of what Y2K

brings. You can meet this goal simply by washing the myriad pop

and fruit juice bottles that come into your life. Don’t use

plastic milk jugs or any container that wasn’t originally used

for food – i.e. bleach, laundry detergent etc.


6. Clothes and Shoes – These might be items that you wouldn’t

normally place in an emergency supplies list. You should. For

instance, many injuries in Earthquakes relate to people getting

out of bed and walking around their house while slicing up their

bare feet on fallen debris and broken glass. So any Y2K

preparations, especially considering it will be January, must

take into account adequate supplies of clean, high quality

clothes and shoes. Particularly if the economy, shipping and

transportation collapse so we can’t import shoes and clothes

from overseas for several months. You might want to consider

having 30 pair of T-shirts, underpants and socks for instance,

so you can change a pair every day if needed. Possibly a bit

spendy, but then again maybe not. A good pair of boots will be

invaluable as will several pair of work pants and shirts. If

nothing else, Y2K may be the chance we need to finally get rid

of polyester. While Y2K has no silver bullet, it may have a

Silver lining if it gets rid of polyester clothes. So inventory

your clothes and think extended camping trip.


7. Food, Vitamins and Fiber You can stop whining now that I’ve

finally come to what everybody thinks of when thinking of Y2K

preparations, namely freeze-dried food. Many people actually

think if they buy a year’s supply of freeze-dried food they have

Y2K licked. Bunk. The only thing worse than paying for a year’s

supply of freeze-dried food is actually EATING a year’s supply of

Freeze dried food. MRE’s, the military version are officially

called Meals Ready to Eat, and unofficially, Meals Ready to

Excrete. So if you do succumb to the freeze dried-slash tulip

mania, by all means be sure to buy plenty of fiber pills and

Metamucil. You should also realize that even the Army only uses

MRE’s for a period of 10 days before the troops get surly. And

the last thing the Army wants is surly troops armed with M-16’s.

By all means, buy a 30 day supply of freeze-dried food to be

used to supplement your regular diet. Just don’t think you will

eat it day in and day out for a year straight.


Vitamins are also a critical factor in any food storage program.

A good general purpose multivitamin is essential, along with

Vitamin C, E, Iron capsules and some herbs for health and tea

drinking. As for the basics of food storage, the cardinal rule

is simple. Buy what you will eat often, rotate it often, and eat

it often. The key word is often, as in constantly. This is a

complex subject way beyond the scope of this brief primer, still

as a duly anointed gold-eagle pundit I shall punditize away. The

foundation is salt, pepper, sugar, honey and numerous other

Spices (thyme, basil, oregano, allspice) you will need to avoid

“appetite fatigue”. Then you will need the grains, flour, rice,

beans and pasta products that will form the bulk of your diet.

Following will be the canned goods, fruits and fruit juices,

vegetables and tomatoes that will give your diet variety. And on

top of that will be the special foods that you enjoy, hard candy

Popcorn and many others. I tend to be a semi-vegetarian so you

can use more meat than I would.


8. BOB The Bug out bag, or 72 hour kit, BOB is designed to be

grabbed in the middle of the night and taken to a public

shelter. This pre packed backpack, plastic box or crate will

allow you to evacuate your residence within 5 minutes and still

have the bare essentials for 72 hours. While not specifically

for Y2K, BOB is the best thing you can do to prepare yourself or

any emergency. If you do nothing else after reading this essay,

at least prepare a BOB. That way, you won’t be one of those

unfortunate souls seen on TV throwing randomly selected stuff in

their cars as they flee into the night.


Many web sites have good BOB lists, so see the ones mentioned

earlier. Briefly the idea is to have a change of clothes and

shoes, personal toiletries, cash in small denominations,

important papers, medications and first aid supplies, sleeping

Bag and pad, food and water, reading materials and leisure

items. All of this is pre packed into a backpack or one of those

hard plastic storage containers, which you can use to sit on

later. These supplies are kept in an easily accessible spot for a

quick getaway. The idea being that if you end up in a hastily

converted public school or church, you aren’t destitute. Just be

aware that the Red Cross has been accused of confiscating food

and water supplies from people seeking shelter during the recent



9. Worst Case-Mad Max and beyond. A few words have to said about

the possibly of much more serious Y2K disruptions. Not that many

of us can do much about them. Whatever happens, the vast

majority of Americans, who live in urban centers, within 10

miles of the ocean coasts are not going to flee into the

Countryside. This survivalist fantasy of living off the land,

like Daniel Boone, or on a small farm, like Little House on the

Prairie is just that-a fantasy. Besides, farming is hard,

physical work, as I can attest from personal experience; the

idea of millions of people shooting wild animals for food is

ridiculous. So this survivalist fantasy isn’t a realistic option

for millions of urban dwellers. This means a few harsh facts

become apparent in Y2K worst case. The first is you are on your

own, with little if any government help. So have no illusions of

FEMA to the rescue, or expect the government to feed, shelter or

make your life comfortable.

The second is that you will not make it

by ignoring your neighbors and family in your Y2K preparations.

So store enough extra to feed some of them as your Christian

duty and if they are open share some simple things, like BOB,

that they can do to prepare. Third, you will need to do some

serious thinking about long-term survival in a post collapse

economy. This means gold and silver, $2500 to $5000 for each

person. $1500 cash in 1’s, 5’s, 10’s and 20’s will be useful

short-term in January, 2000, assuming things stay reasonably

together. Long term also means non-hybrid seeds in case you have

to plant a victory garden in summer 2000. A good source is

Territorial Seed Company at And

finally, worst case elevates weapons and personal defense to a

higher plane. Be a pacifist if you like, just be aware of the

consequences in case the system collapses. There is an old West

saying of “God didn’t make men equal, Colt did”. And don’t let

your worst case preparations destroy you economically or

Spiritually if Y2K turns out to be a non event. Think of it as an

insurance policy that you may never use.


Some Final Thoughts-This is the single most important essay I have

written for The reason is that the advice within may

save your life in an emergency situation. All the rest may enlighten

you, entertain you, or even enrage you, but this one is about life

and death. I hope you take it seriously enough to at least

investigate, at this very late date, how to make prudent and

rational preparations for a medium-sized Y2K disaster. You have less

than eleven months left before the official Y2K hits, but in reality

the time is much shorter.




*Doug McIntosh*

26 January 1999







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