How To Avoid Millennium Bugs

Marve Carcich buys water at a grocery store in Omaha, Neb.
In the last year, talk of how to prepare for Y2K has all but overshadowed the celebrations for the new millennium. But for all the big bug hype, many say it still better to be safe than sorry, reports CBS News Correspondent Maureen Maher.

Experts tell us, fill up the gas tank, the wallet, and the water bottles if for no other reason than that many stores will be closed for the holiday weekend. Even those who feel confident that they're Y2K compliant should take precautionary steps.

"The message to the American people is be prepared, be aware, take precautions, don't panic," one government official says.

After a year of planning for the big bug, panic seems a bit extreme. still, most folks have made their own checklist.

"The only thing we've done so far is stock up on some water and that's about all, that's about the extent of it," an elderly woman said.

Commented one young man: "I don't really think it's going to be too big of a deal."

Perhaps it won't be a big deal, but the American Red Cross says don't take any chances - treat the potential threat of Y2K as if you were preparing for a bad storm.

They suggest assembling a natural disaster supply kit that includes:

  • Water - a three-day's supply, a gallon per person, stored in plastic containers.
  • Non-perishable foods such as canned or freeze-dried items.
  • First-aid kits for both your home and car. In addition to aspirin, you may want to include cold and flu medicine.
  • Supplies like flashlights, batteries, tools, a fire extinguisher.

To avoid telecommunications problems:
  • Minimize phone usage. Phone companies worry about system congestion if everyone picks up the phone at once to check for a dial tone.
  • Use the Internet only when necessary this weekend. Simultaneous Internet usage at home could also cause phone trouble, particularly if millions flock to lengthy Web simulcasts of New Year's celebrations.
  • If you have bills due on January 1, pay them before, and hold off a couple of days into the new year before making electronic payments.
  • Install anti-virus software and get the latest updates before and after Jan. 1. Anti-virus companies plan to post updates frequently on their Web sites. Free software is available at
  • Check for security alerts at Software and other safeguards are available to counter some hacking tools.
  • Turn off computers if possible. Some security experts also recommend shutting down Web sites. Doing so would minimize virus and hacking attacks, although some viruses could still activate and spread when computers are turned back on.