Officials aren't predicting problems when Jan. 1 arrives. But the American Red Cross has developed the following suggestions in case of power outages or other problems:
* Stock disaster supplies to last several days to a week for yourself and those who live with you. This includes having nonperishable foods, stored water and an ample supply of prescription and nonprescription medications that you regularly use.
* As you would in preparation for a storm of any kind, have some extra cash or traveler's checks on hand in case electronic transactions involving ATM cards, credit cards and the like cannot be processed.
* As you would in preparation for a winter storm, keep your automobile gas tank above half full.
* In case the power fails, plan to use alternative cooking devices in accordance with manufacturer's instructions. Don't use open flames or charcoal grills indoors.
* Have extra blankets, coats, hats and gloves to keep warm. Please do not plan to use gas-fueled appliances, like an oven, as an alternative heating source. The same goes for wood-burning or liquid-fueled heating devices that are not designed to be used in a home.
* Camp stoves and heaters should only be used out of doors in a well-ventilated area. If you do purchase an alternative heating device, make sure it is approved for use indoors and is listed with Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
* Have plenty of flashlights and extra batteries on hand. Don't use candles for emergency lighting.
* Examine your smoke alarms now. If you have smoke alarms that are hard-wired into your home's electrical system (most newer ones are), check to see if they have battery backups. Every fall, replace all batteries in all smoke alarms as a general fire safety precaution.
* Be prepared to relocate to a shelter for protection during a prolonged power outage or if for any other reason local officials request or require that you leave your home. Listen to a battery-operated radio or television for information about where shelters will be available.
* If you plan to use a portable generator, connect what you want to power directly to the generator; do not connect the generator to your home's electrical system. Also, be sure to keep a generator in a well-ventilated area: either outside or in a garage, keeping the door open.
* Check with the emergency services providers in your community to see if there is more information available about how your community is preparing for any potential problems. Be an advocate and support efforts by your local police, fire and emergency management officials to ensure that their systems will be able to operate at all times.
Source: American Red Cross
For more information on Y2K preparedness, check out the following Web sites:
* State Office of Emergency Services: http://www.oes.ca.gov/.* U.S. Consumer Gateway: http://www.y2k.gov/nonjava/consumerinfo.html.
* Red Cross: http://www.redcross.org/.
* Small Business Administration: http://www.sba.gov/y2k/.