Girl Scouts Can Qualify in Y2K Preparedness

MINNEAPOLIS — Girl Scouts have been enlisted by Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura to distribute information to citizens on Y2K preparedness, and Girl Scouts around the country can qualify for an Emergency Preparedness proficiency badge.

In a campaign called ‘Minnesota Y2K … Be Prepared,’ Girl Scouts are going door to door with a brochure on Y2K which includes a home and family checklist and carries tips compiled by the American Red Cross and the state?s Office of Technology.

The national Girl Scouts organization is telling members that as they take part in community Y2K service projects like the one in Minnesota they can also work on proficiency badges for things like family living skills, outdoor cooking and first aid. A list of badges related to Y2K is included on the organization?s web site on the page titled ‘What You Can Do About Y2K’ at www.girlscouts.org/girls/Why/Y2K/Y2K.htm.

The page describes the Y2K dilemma in basic language, offers 10 preparation tips, and lists products and industries that are dependent on computer chips. Girl Scouts can post messages on the site to share preparation ideas with one another, and an online ‘Y2K Connections’ worksheet challenges visitors to think about how various items and tasks rely on computer chips.

To earn a credit in Girl Scouts’ Emergency Preparedness activities, girls complete first aid and CPR courses, learn self-defense, create home evacuation plans and make emergency preparedness kits.

Here are the suggested activities involving technology, taken from ‘Interest Projects for Cadette and Senior Girl Scouts:’

1. Visit a local or state command center (police station, hospital, fire station, U.S. Forest Service, emergency manager, military) to learn about different technologies used for communication and handling emergencies in your community. Find out what back-up technologies are available for use in case of a disaster.

2. Learn about ham or CB radio operation through a club meeting, special training, or by spending time with an active member. Learn basic radio procedures and take part in a conversation, drill, or actual emergency communication operation for your community, state, or another part of the world.

3. Know how to turn off the utilities where you live. Ask your parents or the building superintendent to show you how to locate the electrical control panel or fuse box and the water and gas turnoff valves. Learn how to reset a circuit breaker or change a fuse. Know what to do if there is a gas leak. Learn how to test and change smoke alarm batteries. Know what to do in case of a downed electrical wire. See that you have easy access to candles, matches, and flashlights in an emergency.

4. Make an emergency plan for how you, your family, and your community would deal with a severe oil shortage. Which services and products do you use that are oil dependent? For example, electricity from power companies is often generated by using oil. Does your community have an emergency plan? If not, discuss ways that your family and neighbors can cut back on oil use and how your community can still provide basic services.

5. What if your home was without electricity for between three and five days? How would you and your family keep warm or cool, cook food and keep it fresh, and keep water pipes from freezing? How would you do your homework? Think about ways to work cooperatively with neighbors. How could neighborhood cooperation improve the situation for everyone?

6. Learn how to operate an electric generator, propane or gaslight, and propane or gas stove for use in an emergency. Know how to store and handle fuel and where to place equipment safely. Know fire-safety procedures to use with each piece of equipment.

The Girl Scouts organization is also readying for the next millennium with publication later this year of Cookie 2000, an annual handbook of Girl Scout happenings. It contains information about camps, cookie sales and other council-sponsored events occurring between September 1999 and June 2000.

Contacts: Sally Boggess, assistant executive director, Tropical Florida Girl Scout Council, Miami, Fla., 305-253-4841; e-mail: gscoutfl@bellsouth.net; web site: www.girlscoutsfl.org. Laura Offerdahl, governor relations liaison, State of Minnesota, Saint Paul, Minn., 651-296-0077; web site: www.mainserver.state.mn.us/governor.

Background: Ellen Ach, media consultant, Girl Scouts of the USA, New York, N.Y., 212-852-6570; e-mail: echristieach@girlscouts.org; web site: www.girlscouts.org. Deb Baker, director of communications, Girl Scouts San Diego-Imperial Council Inc., San Diego, Calif., 619-298-8393. Beverly Chevron, public relations director, Greater New York Girl Scout Council, Manhattan, N.Y., 212-645-4000. Sarah Evans, director of public relations and marketing, Girl Scout Council of the Nation?s Capitol, 202-237-1670; e-mail: sevans@gscnc.org. Diane Smith, director of public relations, Orange County Girl Scout Council, Costa Mesa, Calif., 714-979-7900.

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