Dear Black Bag Confidential Reader,
This week’s mailbag covers a variety of questions from survival radios to propane storage and more.
On your marks…
How much propane do you recommend keeping on hand? Do you have any concern about the safety of storing propane due to the possibility of it exploding? If you can use a natural gas line instead, which would be an unlimited supply, why not go with it?
— Dave S.
I recommend stockpiling 30 days’ worth of propane to run your generator. That being said, you shouldn’t plan on powering your entire house for 30 days — just your basic necessities.
In my experience, propane tanks are safe to store (much safer than gasoline) and I have no concern storing them long term.
Using a gas line would be convenient. However, I wouldn’t depend on it during an emergency. I would be more concerned about a gas leak, especially in the event of a natural disaster, and would rather use my own propane.
What do you recommend for the destruction of bottles of medication that have, glued onto it, your name and other identifying information — not to mention the name of the medication, that of the prescribing physician and that of (presumably) your preferred pharmacy…
— Bruce M.
If your prescription bottle has a label that has been glued on, soak the empty bottle in hot water for a few minutes and try to remove the label with a razor blade or knife. Then you can shred the label like you would normal paper.
You could also contact your local police department and ask them if they can dispose of empty medication bottles. Ask them specifically how they destroy the bottles and if they ensure the labels are destroyed as well.
I’m new to handguns and recently read something in a novel that raised a question: When storing handgun magazines, does it impair the spring mechanism if it is loaded to capacity with rounds? It seems like it would take too long to load them when the SHTF and would be better to have them ready to use.
— Victoria S.
I recommend always keeping your magazines loaded. In a crisis — such as a home invasion — you don’t want to make life any more complicated. And you certainly don’t want to introduce any more steps than are necessary to protect your family.
As long as you’ve purchased quality factory-made magazines, you don’t have to worry about the spring failing. I’ve kept guns loaded for years — and know many other gun aficionados who do the same. It’s a myth that you need to “relieve” your magazines every few months.
I am posing this question for my son who lives in NYC. He has had every bank account, credit card and debit card hacked during his three years there. What type of additional security should he have on his banking situation?
— Lisa K.
First, tell him to contact his bank and ask them what security measures they offer that he can add to his accounts. For example, some banks can require a second PIN to access certain accounts.
I also recommend that your son contacts all three credit-reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) to put a freeze on his credit. This will ensure that no one is able to run his credit or make any large purchases without his knowledge.
It’s difficult to say exactly how his cards are being compromised, but I also suggest purchasing an RFID blocking card to keep him from being electronically pickpocketed.
Finally, using a prepaid credit card is also an option. I realize this may be inconvenient, but it eliminates the risk to his bank accounts, because the card isn’t connected to the rest of his funds. Even if a criminal stole the prepaid card or card number, there would be a limit to how much they could steal.
What is the best survival radio with the highest satisfaction rating?
— Ole P.
There are a lot of options when it comes to survival radios, and I’m sure there are many pros and cons for each brand.
Personally, I prefer the Baofeng UV-5R V2, which is a small radio that can be used as a ham (amateur) radio for staying in touch with others during a survival situation. I’ve used Baofeng radios many times during training and they’ve never let me down.
These radios sell for around $35 — depending on the specific model you purchase. They’re the perfect size for a bug-out bag and are fairly simple to operate. But keep in mind you do need a license to operate an amateur radio.