'Surviving without electricity, heat or running water for days or weeks is not as hard as people are making it out to be,' she said. 'You can stock up on one week's supply of food easily,' she said.
Garcia advises sticking to food you'll eat, like chili, tuna, chicken in a can. 'Think peanut butter and saltines. Peanut butter is a wonderful thermostat for your body. What you want is food that will keep you warm,' she said. 'Don't buy foods your body is not used to eating. You'll be sick and the sewers may not be working.'
Garcia's approach to mealtime off the grid is simple: grill your food on the barbecue or camp stove outside. For indoor cooking, inexpensive Sternos will boil water for some pasta, or heat up a can of soup. If all else fails, use a coffee can and a candle. 'Punch some holes in the bottom, turn it over and put a candle underneath it. It makes a great burner and it will really cook food,' Garcia said.
Staying warm without heat will be a problem, but she discourages people from buying expensive generators, propane or kerosene heaters. 'The danger of carbon monoxide poisoning is so high with these,' she said. Plus, to stock enough fuel to last a week or more, people would need to illegally store gallons and gallons of fuel in their homes, which could cause explosions or fires.
If power is out and the weather is not overly frigid, think of camping indoors, Garcia said. 'Bring your tent inside, pile your whole family into it, and get into sleeping bags. 'A tent will add 10 degrees of warmth.' And get out your wool socks, gloves and hats. 'Forget cotton. It can kill you because cotton will radiate heat away from your body.'
For bitter cold weather, if you don't have a fireplace or wood-burning stove, make sure you know somebody who does. 'We tell people, get to know your neighbors because you might be sleeping with them,' she said.
Garcia has also been directing people to www.beprepared.com, the web site of Emergency Essentials, a Utah-based company that specializes in outdoor survival gear. Inexpensive solutions include a 12-hour light stick ($2 each), 18-hour hand and body warmers, 100-hour candles and an emergency space sleeping bag.
And where will Garcia be on New Year's Eve? 'We're staying home,' she said. 'And that's my advice to everyone: stay home. Because people who haven't done any preparations will panic.'
Contact: Kathy Garcia, executive director, Boulder County Y2K, Boulder, Colo., 303-247-1955.
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