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QUESTIONS TO ASK ABOUT YOUR LOCAL AREA'S Y2K READINESS

From the Center for Y2k and Society

Do the local facilities that manufacture or store hazardous chemicals -- like propane, ammonia, chlorine, and sulfuric acid -- have tested Y2K plans that deal with chemical accidents? (According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency the non-industrial Washington, D.C. area has over 600 hazardous chemical sites.)

Does your community have one of the 8,000 small and medium-sized water treatment plants that were not Y2K compliant this last summer? Ask your plant for their manual workaround plan.

Have all of the local transit components (buses, subway, commuter railroads) been thoroughly tested to be Y2K-ready? Is there a community-wide contingency plan for public transit?

Have the local emergency management plans been updated for Y2K, coordinated with key partners like the Red Cross, hospitals, and lelading nonprofit, and communicated effectively to the public? Do the plans provide food and shelter for those not able to prepare for themselves?

Is there a Y2K healthcare response plan that involved local hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, home healthcare providers, HMOs, and pharmacists? Does it include provisions for treating medically dependent residents in the event of a Y2K emergency and an agreement on supply and staff sharing?

Does your community know your state's level of Y2K readiness for key benefits such as food stamps, unemployment, Medicaid, and child support? Do you have a local backup plan for assuring the timely provision of benefits in the event that benefits payments are not made or are significantly delayed?

Is your 911 system Y2K compliant and tested?

Do you know the Y2K status of small businesses in the community, and whether local assistance is available to help them make necessary Y2K changes? (Nation-wide, at least 800,000 small business are estimated to be Y2K noncompliant.)

Is the local government assessing whether the community has any particular vulnerabilities to potential international Y2K problems? Are there plans to minimize the impact?

Additional questions, and answers from over 40 communities across the country, can be found in the Community Planning section of our Web site, www.y2kcenter.org. According to Norm Dean, the Executive Director of the Center for Y2K and Society, "Answering these kinds of questions for the public will promote prudence, not panic, and help avoid both overreaction and complacency."

It's not just about computers. It's about people.