The Greatest Escapes

Dear Black Bag Confidential Reader,

I love answering reader emails. I want you to feel safe — no matter where you are or what you are doing. It’s my goal to provide useful information that will give you the confidence to defend yourself, your home and your loved ones from any threat that arises.

So keep your questions coming! Simply send an email to

Now let’s get to this week’s mailbag.

I was wondering if you could recommend a home safe? I would be interested in your recommendations for a safe for valuables and a safe for firearms. Thank you.

—Dan B.

Safes are not the type of item you should ever go cheap on. I highly recommend that any safe you get is fireproof, especially if you plan on storing important documents in them.

For valuables, I would look into the SentrySafe SFW123DSB. This model is a standard combination safe with no electronic locks, so it doesn’t require batteries. It offers one hour of fire protection and is water resistant up to eight inches. One of the reasons I like this safe is that you can bolt it to your floor. Criminals will often grab a safe during a burglary and figure out how to get into it later, but if it’s bolted down, they won’t be able to take it with them. This safe sells for around $200 on Amazon.

For a good gun safe, I suggest checking out the Browning Medallion Series. Browning is well known in the gun world, and they offer a quality line of large, heavy, well-built gun safes.

You have an article in the latest Spy & Survival Briefing about secure passwords but do not mention password vault programs like KeePass, which generate VERY secure passwords, and as long as you can remember a reasonably simple password for the vault, which is on your own computer(s), you can have passwords that will make the hackers WORK to crack in. What do you think of programs like this?

—Geoffrey F.

The biggest reason I don’t use a password vault program like KeePass is that I don’t like to put all my eggs in one basket. On the off chance that my password program is compromised, I don’t want hackers to be able to access every single secure website I use.

In fact, about five years ago, LastPass discovered a possible breach in their security and required all users to change their master password. While they don’t believe hackers accessed any confidential information, the risk exists, even though it’s small.

What I am very interested in is how to be safer in my home. My husband works a lot of hours, and I am alone a lot...

—Nancy K.

Well, Nancy, here are several security measures you can take to better protect your home so you feel safer while your husband is working. First, make sure you have a security system, one that includes video cameras. Anytime you are home by yourself, turn on the system’s stay mode.

I also recommend making sure the area around your house is well lit. Motion-sensor lights ought to do the trick. And be sure your yard is cleaned up. You don’t want to make it easy for criminals to hide around your home.

Lastly, post “Beware of Dog” signs and place a large dog bowl by your back door — even if you don’t have a dog. These simple little tricks will deter a would-be criminal from breaking in while you’re home alone.

Something that is always missing from defensive plans is small-unit tactics. For example, how would three or four people defend a home, do security patrol or move about for recon and scouting?

—Dave K.

Unless they have military or law enforcement training, most people don’t know how to clear a house or tactically work as a team. And unfortunately, this isn’t something that can simply be explained; it needs to be practiced.

Often, I train couples who want to prepare for this exact situation. I believe that if your spouse or someone you spend a lot of time with carries a weapon, you should discuss together how you will respond to potential threats.

I recently trained a couple who both carry concealed weapons. They have a plan in place if they are in public together when an active shooter situation unfolds. If that happens, the wife will grab their children and retreat from danger. The husband will engage the threat if necessary and buy as much time as possible for his family to flee to safety.

Since the wife also carries a weapon, she will be prepared to defend her children in case something happens to her husband. While there isn’t much tactical planning involved in this scenario, they have a plan, which is a good thing.

If you and another family member carry weapons, I suggest training together and developing a plan of your own. If you hear a loud noise in the middle of the night, you should know how to work together to clear your home if needed.

What is a good way to dispose of my computer’s hard drive?

—Richard K.

First, boil the hard drive for about 10 minutes. Then smash it into many different pieces with a hammer. After that, dispose of the fragments in several different trash cans. I realize this might sound like overkill, but it’s the best way to destroy the drive and erase your personal data.

I appreciate your newsletter and have purchased numerous items from you in the past. Thank you for everything you do.

—Frank B.

Thanks, Frank. I appreciate the feedback — and your support. I am always trying to give you the best information on the planet.

And now for a few questions about duct tape…

How do you escape duct tape if your hands are taped to the chair arms?

—Mike R.

All you have to do is quickly bring hands to your chest while pushing your elbows out. The angle this creates will cause the duct tape to tear the same way it does when you rip a piece of tape off the roll.

What do you do if you are duct taped from behind at the wrists?

—Eric C.

It’s not feasible to duct tape someone’s hands behind their back because it’s difficult to get their wrists close enough together. Most of the time, the person who is duct taped will be able to slip one of their hands out. (We actually teach this and many other escape techniques at our live Two-Day Spy course. Read about it here.)

Stay safe,

Jason Hanson

Jason Hanson

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