Dear Black Bag Confidential Reader,
Scammers and thieves are constantly looking for new ways to commit crime, which means security measures must also continuously evolve to keep up.
Case in point: One reader, a retired police officer, explains how burglars have figured out how to break in through older windows and sliding glass doors — even if you put a dowel in the track.
Luckily, he’s got a solution so easy you could implement it today.
Take it away, Jeff:
I just read your back issue, “Five Steps to an Invasion-Proof Home.” Nicely done! I’m a medically retired police officer with 22 years of service. Eight of those years, I was a crime scene investigator. I wanted to share with you a way that crooks can get into a home through a sliding glass door or sliding window.
I’ve heard people say one can use a broomstick in the track and cut it a couple inches short so you can leave the door/window open slightly for ventilation. The problem with this is the bad guy can get ahold of the door/window on the inside and lift it up and out of the track. But there is a remedy for this.
Open the door/window entirely. In the top track, screw in two pan-head screws about three-quarters of the way. Make sure they aren’t too wide so they don’t impede. Then close the door/window. If it hits the screw, turn it in more until the door/window clears both the screws. Now you can leave the door/window open an inch with a dowel rod in the track and it can’t be lifted out.
This primarily works for older homes, as newer windows prevent their removal when the window is partially closed.
— Jeff H.
Thank you for your 22 years of service and for this tip. This is great advice to prevent criminals from simply lifting the window out of the track. I absolutely recommend doing this to first-level windows and sliding glass doors to make them more secure.
I’ve heard conflicting things about boiling water to make it safe to drink. Is boiling really enough? How long do you need to boil the water to make it safe?
— Beth W.
This is a great question, Beth, with an answer that’s often confusing. You’ve probably heard of cities where local authorities have issued a boil water notice, but does that really make the water safe to drink?
Boiling water will kill viruses, parasites and bacteria but it won’t remove lead, pesticides or any toxic chemicals. In fact, boiling water that contains lead or chemicals could make the water more dangerous. This is because the amount of water decreases when you boil it due to evaporation but the amount of lead or chemicals in the water remains the same.
To be safe, I suggest purchasing a quality water filter that removes bacteria as well as chemicals like the SurvFilter.
If you have to boil water for drinking, be sure to bring the water to a full boil, and then keep it at boiling temperature (212°F) for about 10 minutes. Remember that it may take up to 30 minutes for the water to cool down to a drinkable temperature.
The federal PETS Act requires shelter cities to provide shelter for evacuated pets, mostly for dogs and cats. Pet shelters might not be at the same location as humans (some are allergic to pet dander). You need to have a picture, proof of rabies vaccination, vet contact info and a description of the pet with you. They say it’s best to plan on boarding with a kennel or a vet in an evac location. What do you suggest for evacuating with pets?
— Matt M.
When it comes to evacuating with pets, the best thing you can do is evacuate early if possible. If you know a hurricane is approaching, your pets are an important factor to consider when deciding when you should leave.
I also recommend preparing a bug-out bag for your pet just like you would for any member of your family. It should include food, water and medicine — plus a leash, a flash drive with photos of your pet and documents containing proof of vaccination and other relevant information. (I also recommend having hard copies of these items in a sealed Ziploc bag.) And remember, you’ll probably need to pack less water for your pet since you won’t need it to cook their food.
Thank you for the offer of WaterBricks! I do have one question: If stored in a hot garage, what is the room temperature at which the bricks are adversely affected?
The bricks would most likely be stored in the garage. The temperature outside the garage is about 100 degrees lately…
— Linda L.
Ideally, you should store emergency water in a cool, dark place but there is no specific temperature at which the WaterBricks wouldn’t work.
If you decide to store them in a garage, I suggest stacking them on a pallet or finding some other way to keep them off the ground. If it’s hot outside, you may want to rotate your water supply more often than if you stored it in a cool, dark place.
I hear from certain people that on Sept. 23, because of a meteor that lands in the West or East Coast ocean, a tidal wave will wipe out one-third of our nation. Do you think this is coming? This is called “Planet X.” I have survivalist friends who say go to the mountains to avoid this catastrophe. What do you say?
— Shirley T.
Honestly, Shirley, I do not believe this is a credible threat. But tidal waves (or tsunamis) are a thing that can happen.
The most important thing to do in the event of a tidal wave is to get as high off the ground as possible. Ideally, you want to get at least three stories off the ground in a structure that is strong enough to withstand the rushing water, like a big building or parking garage.
Remember, a tsunami is a series of waves, so make sure you stay put until the danger is over. Don’t assume since one wall of water has passed that it’s safe. Also, once the waves have subsided, there will be tons of debris and contamination dangers, so get out of the area as quickly as you can.
I just bought a new gun (a Springfield 1911, just like you recommended) and I need some good practice drills. What do you suggest?
— David L.
You made a great choice buying a 1911; it’s one of my favorite guns.
There are a lot of different drills you could do, but one I particularly like is called the Mozambique or failure-to-stop drill. For this drill, use a standard person-silhouette target. Practice firing two shots to the center mass of the target and one shot to the head.
Once you get the hang of this, start timing yourself and continue to improve your speed and accuracy. Basically, this drill is great practice for when you encounter someone wearing body armor or when two shots to the torso fail to stop the threat.
Another drill I recommend uses any standard target that has numbers. Most gun ranges will have these types of targets. You will also need another person to help you complete this drill.
The way it works is the other person will call out a number on the target. You need to find that number, aim and fire one round. This is an important drill because it makes you think before shooting, which you should always do in a real-life situation.