Danger Calling — Don’t Answer

This week’s mailbag questions are all about avoiding danger at all costs. You’ll learn how to protect yourself from phone scammers, looters, natural disasters and more.

If you have a self-protection question, click here to send me an email. I want to know what threats you’re facing so I can give you the knowledge and skills to combat them.

Without further ado, let’s dive in.

Is there a way to call someone using someone else’s phone number? Lately, I have been getting a lot of calls where when I call back the number has been disconnected.

— Dennis W. 

There are multiple apps criminals can use to spoof a phone number. Essentially, they could call you and make any number they want appear on the caller ID. Unfortunately, this is a common way scammers will trick you into answering their phone calls.

Once, I received a phone call from my own number. In other words, the phone in my hand looked like it was calling itself, which obviously isn’t possible. This made it very tempting to answer because I wanted to know who it was (but I didn’t).

Personally, I only answer phone calls from numbers I know. If it turns out an unfamiliar number is someone who really needs to get ahold of me, they will leave a message and I will call them back.

There was a headlamp you all had a while back. Is it still for sale? Where can I get one?

— Chris P. 

A headlamp is one of my favorite pieces of survival gear. Never underestimate how critical it is to be able to see what you’re doing in an emergency.

I recommend storing multiple headlamps with your survival gear. Ideally, you should have one for each family member so you can all still move around and do whatever is needed even if it’s pitch black.

The fact is whether you are setting up a tent in the dark or clearing your home in the dead of night, having your hands free will make a huge difference. Click here to discover more ways a headlamp can come in handy in a crisis.

Is it ever a good idea to bug out by boat? Depending on the emergency, obviously — bad idea for a hurricane — but I live near the marina where I keep my 26-foot Pearson Ariel. If there are mobs and looting, wouldn’t I be safer on the water?

— Stan D. 

In my opinion, bugging out by boat is a great idea since the majority of looters or criminals probably wouldn’t have access to one of their own. That being said, if this is your plan, make sure you have plenty of supplies on board.

You should also have a clear idea of where you will go — you’ll have to dock somewhere eventually. Chart a course (or several) so you can safely restock your supplies before you run out.

Finally, as you mentioned, check the weather before you set sail so you don’t get caught up in a storm.

I have a Generac generator that takes over in an emergency; it cost big bucks. Now the problem — NOISE. It can be heard around the block. In an emergency, I don’t want people coming over because they know I have a generator and they can hear it. I have complained to Generac, but they cannot make it quieter. Their response is “too bad.” Does anyone else have this problem? What can I do to quiet it?

— Pat C. 

When you buy a generator, the amount of noise it puts out should be one of your main concerns. However, if you already have a generator and it’s too loud, there are a few options.

First, be sure to install a muffler on your generator if it doesn’t already have one. Next, consider building a sound-dampening enclosure around it. I realize this might not be the cheapest option, but it is one of the most effective ways to reduce noise. You could also place your generator on a rubber-type pad, which will cut down on vibrations (and noise).

Lastly, use common sense when running your generator. If looters are roaming the streets looking for someone with power, it’s probably not a good idea to fire up your generator at that moment.

You mentioned keeping valuables in a safe you can bolt to the ground. What companies do you recommend? I don’t want something that’s too expensive, but I don’t want to sacrifice security…

— Kira M. 

One of the least expensive brands I recommend is Stack-On. Their personal security safes come in a variety of sizes. They don’t take up a ton of space, and you can still bolt them to the ground.

Another option to consider is SentrySafe. Their water- and fire-resistant safes are more expensive, but they offer better protection against the elements.

No matter which safe you choose to fit your needs, I suggest sticking with one of the more reputable brands such as Stack-On, SentrySafe or Liberty.

Can you give me a checklist of the things I should do to close up my house in the event of a forced evacuation? If I have to leave and I don’t know when I will be back, how do I protect my home from criminals and bad weather?

— Nathan A. 

If you plan on leaving your house, you should take an inventory of everything inside. What I mean is take your cellphone and record a video of the entire house. Walk through each room and identify every item from TVs all the way down to the dishes. The more detailed you are the better, since everything could potentially be gone when you return.

In addition, I recommend boarding up your windows and doors to prevent anything (or anyone) from smashing through. Use plywood that is at least one-half inch thick and ensure it covers the entire opening — even a little gap can wreak havoc.

Lastly, unplug everything in your home — electronics, lamps, appliances, etc. — and move them to the highest point in the house you reasonably can. Right before you leave, shut off the power and water. The goal is to make your home as unappealing as possible to criminals.

Stay safe,

Jason Hanson

Jason Hanson

P.S. Help me help you! Don’t forget to send your safety and survival questions to SPYfeedback@LFB.org to be answered in a future edition of the Weekly Drop.