Dear Black Bag Confidential Reader,
This week’s mailbag is full to bursting. Along with the usual batch of reader questions, I also received a ton of feedback on topics we’ve recently covered in the daily issues.
Without further ado, let’s take a look.
We have two water heaters in our house: a 50-gallon heater for the main part of the house and a 40-gallon heater in the addition for our house. We also have a water filter. Inside those two hot water heaters are 90 gallons of water, which would come in handy when (not if) the grid goes down — if we could just get the water out of those two heaters. So the question is: How do we get the water out of the hot water heaters when water becomes scarce?
— Jonathan C.
Water heaters can be a great source of water during an emergency. The first thing you need to do is turn off the power to the heater. Typically, water heaters are either electric or gas — either way they must be turned off before being drained.
You also need to turn off the valve that lets cold water into the tank. This valve should be at the top of the tank near the pipe that brings in new water. The links above cover how to shut off the water supply for each type of water heater as well.
At the bottom of the tank, you should see a drain and valve. Some water heaters have garden hose connections so you can hook up a hose and drain the water into another container.
Lastly, even though water from a water heater SHOULD be safe to drink, I still recommend using a water filter to filter the water before drinking. A great option is the SurvFilter, which purifies 250 gallons before you need to replace the filter insert.
Thank you for your incredibly informative emails. Recently, I started studying your “Spy Escape & Evasion Training.” In Module 3 (Everyday Carry Gear) you recommend always carrying a quality pocketknife. My question is… which brand do you recommend?
— Gary M.
When it comes to folding knives for everyday carry, one of my favorite brands is Benchmade. They produce high-quality knives that are designed to take a beating, and there’s no doubt you pay for what you get.
Another quality knife-maker I like is Spyderco. They offer a wider selection of everyday-carry knives at a variety of price points, so you’re sure to find something you can afford.
I bought a small flashlight from you. Can you tell me what size and type of battery it uses?
— Lonnie W.
The Pocket Torch takes one regular AA battery or one 14500 lithium-ion rechargeable battery.
Don’t forget to check out the Panasonic eneloop batteries. As I mentioned last week, these rechargeable alkaline batteries can be reused over 2,100 times — so they’re a great investment.
Where can I purchase products in Wisconsin?
— Steve B.
Depends on what products you’re looking for, Steve. For example, if you’re in the market for a quality survival water filter, you can order the SurvFilter here and have it shipped straight to your door.
Or if you want to arm yourself with a tactical pen, click here. This specially engineered pen, made of solid aircraft-grade aluminum, makes for a remarkable self-defense tool.
And if you want to buy the incredible SEAL Torch 2000 (or several), you can do so here.
What do you suggest for people regarding a bug-out vehicle? I’m thinking an older 4×4 pickup without an electronic ignition or alternator. Carry an extra set of points and condenser, fan belt and replace the alternator with a generator. This vehicle will still run if an EMP is part of the package we get hit with. Is that right?
— Adam J.
The older the vehicle, the better the chance it will survive an EMP attack. Personally, I would look into getting an older half-ton or bigger pickup or an SUV. (One bug-out truck I currently own is a 1984 Chevy Suburban and I love it.)
When it comes to surviving an EMP blast, there is no guarantee that a specific make or model of vehicle would survive, but the less electronic components the vehicle has — the greater the chance it won’t be affected.
What do you think of a laser as a self-defense weapon?
— Taylor L.
The tricky thing about using a laser for self-defense, Taylor, is that you need to point the laser at your attacker’s eyes to distract them.
Now, I’m all for using any weapon possible in a life-or-death situation. However, if an attacker were running toward you or moving erratically, it would be difficult to hit them in the eyes with a laser. I would rather have a gun, knife or tactical pen for self-defense.
And now for some feedback on recent articles…
I always welcome responses from readers. If you agree, disagree or have questions or a topic you’d like me to address, send an email to SPYfeedback@LFB.org.
Renaissance Wax is a great product that protects and produces a nice nonslick surface to your wood stocks. It is used on fine wood furniture including pianos. I am very pleased with it — a little goes a long way.
— Charlie C.
Thanks for the information, Charlie. I’ve never used Renaissance Wax, but it’s important to keep the wood parts of your firearm in good shape, so I’ll keep this in mind.
I read with interest your message about the utilities installing the so-called smart readers. Here in Calgary, our city-run utility made it mandatory to install these water meters in every home in the city. This summer, the concerns you mentioned actually happened and some homeowners were faced with exorbitant water bills, even when their water consumption did not change (or actually decreased).
— Dennis Y.
I’ve heard stories of this happening in cities across the U.S. as well. Unfortunately, I believe many utility companies are rushing to install so-called “smart readers” even though the technology may not be completely accurate.
I think it does matter if they outlaw bump stocks. It is an accessory and so are mags. If they outlaw them because of the high rate of fire, then 30-round mags might be outlawed because they allow a higher rate of fire. It is a slippery slope, and I hope we do not start down it. They have infringed on the Second enough. We need to take some of those infringements back. While I agree with you I do not need or want a bump fire stock (and I probably do not want an auto either), I think we need to take the restrictions off the autos.
— Art F.
I completely agree with you, Art, that it’s a slippery slope. Besides the background check, I think there should be zero restrictions on the types of guns we can own.
I say yes, bump stocks should be banned because they severely reduce your accuracy of fire and therefore are not useful for hunters or recreational shooters. Frankly, I never even heard of this option until the shootings in Las Vegas. Why would you even think you need this option?
— Albert T.
I agree with you, Albert. There’s really no reason you would need a bump stock. They make you less accurate and serve no real purpose for the average law-abiding gun owner.