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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Keeping Your Valuables Safe, Part 5

Pic to right: dog digging a hole for you!

Here's today's double-installment for keeping your valuables safe.

What Kinds of Safes?

I'll admit it. I bought my little portable fire-safe from Wal-Mart about 15-20 years ago, and it's followed me from Florida to Texas to Colorado to Kentucky and back to Colorado. It looks like a safe, and would probably be the first thing a burglar would take. Boy, he'd be disappointed because I keep my son's father's picture in there (he's gone), a pretty rock my son found and gave to me as a gift, a copy of a will I wrote way before my son was even a glimmer, and various other non-valuable things.

Anyway, I'm the furthrest (fartherest?) person from consulting about what kind of safe to buy.... IF you want to buy a safe. Here's a few websites to check out:

Those are just a few websites I found by googling "companies providing home safes". If you have a preferred provider, feel free to list it as a comment to this article. You can do so anonymously!

More Alternatives to Actual Safes

I've been reading about alternatives, and have come up with a couple of suggestions. Besides what I mentioned in Part 3 of this series (pringles can, etc.), give these some thought:

  • Someone mentioned as a comment to Part 3 (I think) of this series to hide cash in a baby bottle full of milk, labeled "breast milk" and frozen. That will work great if there's other evidence of a baby in the house!

  • Want a really safe place? Dig a hole on your property. Buy some PVC and coupling and ends, place your long-term items in it (ammo, papers, coins, etc.), seal it very well, and bury it. Be sure you tell one other person that you really REALLY trust (a life-partner/spouse) the location of this stash because if you die without doing so, the location will die with you. Note 1: Stay on your property... if you use a friend's land, the property could be sold and your digging priviledges will be gone. Note 2: No burglar will risk digging holes all over a person's property in the holes that they'll hit a hidden cache. Note 3: It's durn-near impossible for a fire to get into an underground stash. Note 4: Locate it out of your neighbor's sight so you can get back to it when you need to, then cover the hole with gravel and maybe plant a rose bush there, and at other places nearby to camoflauge the real location! Note 5: Bury your container with a thick level of rocks or gravel under it - this will allow rain water to pool BELOW the container and seep into the soil - and cover with several layers of tarp to divert moisture away.

  • The most fire-resistant place in your home is the freezer. It's very highly insulated. Perfect place to keep papers. Consider using an old freezer as your "filing cabinet".

  • Do YOU have any more ideas?

More coming... as soon as we can!

Original: http://colorado-preppers.blogspot.com/2009/06/keeping-your-valuables-safe-part-5.html

Keeping Your Valuable Safe, Part 4

Sorry about the delay. We're working to get this house ready for sale, and I'm about to pull all of my hair out!!

It occurs to me that I haven't really stated WHY I'm doing this series. We were at a local used book store where I picked up a book on home security with inexpensive safes. I got to reading it, and knew not only that I needed to put it into practice (as soon as we move to our next place!) but also let you all in on the info. I mean, we really don't have anything of value, and I haven't even touched a real gun (do toys count?) since I was a kid shooting b-b-'s.

Why Hide Anything?

This economy is horrible. Banks are failing. Doors closing. Everything getting worse... more expensive, less available, etc.

Put your stuff in a bank? Well, you could but be honest... in my humble opinion, they just aren't as safe as they say they are. If a bank or other financial institution fails, you may not be able to access your money or your safe-deposit box for quite a while. Having your jewelry, cash, important papers, etc. at home could prevent you from becoming broke in the blink of an eye. You won't have to wait around for the FDIC to get around to re-opening your bank.

Even if your bank is stable (and in this economy, can you really say that?), your bank doesn't stay open 24/7. You can only access your stuff on their time-table. What if you need it Friday night? Gotta wait till 9:00 a.m. on Monday... IF you're lucky.

What if you want to keep your firearms safe? Your valuable coin collection, or other valuables that are NOT covered by the bank's insurance? Bank vaults CAN be burgled.

Here's something I don't really want to type and put out there, calling attention to us, but I feel I must. Let's face it: although the USA's motto is "innocent until proven guilty", the government and the justice and legal system often turn it around, treating average law-abiding citizens like criminals. Legislation pushed through can suddenly turn our favorite firearm into an illegal item. What do we do? We could hide it hoping it will become legal again, or we could get rid of it while hoping we won't be caught before we can make that happen.

But a safe could also protect our stuff from snooping people... whether your nosy next-door-neighbor, a private detective sent by your boss, or someone from the legal system or government searching for any excuse to make themselves look good. These days, it's entirely possible to think that your house could be searched without a search warrant, especially if you surf through prepper blogs and websites, and receive militant magazines at your door. You'll be on a watch-list, no doubt.

If you have "questionable" material about "how-to" do or make something, or other controversial or highly-watched topics, you might be subjected to an eventual long legal battle. Which you won't win. Do you have any of these questionable materials/publications? You could hide them to avoid such problems, even though you've done nothing illegal.

Disclaimer: We are NOT suggesting that anyone do anything illegal.

More coming soon.

Original; http://colorado-preppers.blogspot.com/2009/06/keeping-your-valuable-safe-part-4.html

Find a Campfire Cook Stove

If you want to carry a cookstove and fuel with you instead of making a fire (especially if there are fire restrictions), consider which kind best suits you. Understand the essentials when buying your stove.

Value: how long it takes for the food to heat over any period of time

Efficiency: tells you how much fuel you're using during that period of time

Weight and Compactness, as a unit

A camp stove like what's pictured above is better for car-camping. It's bulky, not compact although it does fold back on itself, but the weight and the fuel requirements are not great for hiking and backpacking. Well, unless you have a mule!

The next picture is smaller. It's a single-burner that uses propane, and is actually pretty stable. You can set a big pot on it (if the weight is properly distributed), and it carries well.

The third picture is an alcohol stove. Fill it with rubbing alcohol, light it, and pop the bowl on. Looks pretty sturdy, doesn't it?

= = = =

There are other kinds of stoves that I haven't mentioned here. We recently got a "fold-flat" orange stove thingy (last picture, below) from http://www.beprepared.com/ but haven't have a chance to use it yet.

Peruse your camping store, and perhaps take a more experienced camper with you to help. You want the smallest unit you can get, to provide the biggest output. I wouldn't ask the salepeople to help because they almost always recommend the more expensive items.

Original: http://colorado-preppers.blogspot.com/2009/06/find-campfire-cook-stove.html

Your Own Personal Threat Assessment

When is the last time you conducted a threat assessment, on yourself? Threat assessments are fairly common practice in many industries. Schools, hospitals, businesses, high profile individuals, military/government/critical infrastructure...these days conducting a threat assessment is just part of doing business. Individuals, however, usually don't think to conduct such an assessment on themselves. It's about time we all do this so that we will have a more realistic basis for our disaster preparedness planning. Here's some things to consider:
  • You may want to begin by listing any and every threat you can think of. Threats include: job loss, hurricanes, street crime, fire, winter storms, socio-economic collapse, illness/injury/death of the family breadwinner, earthquakes, home invasion, pandemic flu, chemical/biological/radiological/nuclear disaster, etc.
  • Think the threats out for yourself--and don't pay attention to the news while you do it. If every media source is reporting on the horrible economy but you are debt free, own your own home, have plenty of savings, are self employed in a stable industry, and can pretty much take care of yourself financially, then unlike most of the population, financial calamity probably won't be at the top of your list.
  • Next look at each risk and make three categories: least likely to happen, most likely to happen, and everything in between. Where we live, we simply don't have hurricanes so although this phenomena can be a very serious risk, it isn't a risk for me and my family so it gets put into the 'least likely to happen' list. We do, however, get earthquakes so this will go on the 'most likely to happen' list.
  • Take your 'most likely to happen' list and logically prioritize them. Don't let the media or emotions take over when putting this list together. The news of the day can often impact our thinking and cause us to give more priority to categories that really are less likely to happen then the regular 'ol boring stuff like job loss.
  • Now look at your prioritized 'most likely to happen' list and start planning. What are ten steps you can take now or in the near future that would help mitigate each disaster? For example, if you are the family breadwinner and you have a spouse and three kids at home, at the top of your list of disasters would be the possibility of your long term illness/disability or death. Without you and your income around, that truly would be a disaster for your family. And unfortunately, such a scenario is much more likely to happen than something like marauding hoards or nuclear warfare. Your ten steps, then, would include: getting life insurance, writing or updating your Will, looking into disability insurance, getting an emergency fund in place ASAP, etc.
  • Your disaster preparedness tasks should now be laid out fairly clearly. If you have ten 'most likely to happen' disasters with ten steps each to complete in order to be better prepared for such disasters to happen, then you now have 100 tasks to take care of.
  • Does this mean you shouldn't prepare for things such as social collapse or bugging out for an indeterminate amount of time? No. You should always develop your skills, think through every "what if" scenario you could think of, practice camping out in the woods, grow a garden for the exercise and health benefits, etc, however the majority of your time, attention, and money should go towards preparing for the disasters that are most likely to happen to you.
  • What about the rest of the threats you listed, those that were least likely and less likely to happen? Fortunately disaster planning in general will help mitigate a wide range of disasters, not just the things you plan for. For example, an earthquake may be high on your list and a flood may be very low on your list, however the steps you take to prepare for the earthquake (getting your BOB ready, checking your insurance, planning to bug out if necessary, gathering clean up supplies, etc) will work for both situations.

Original; http://codenameinsight.blogspot.com/2009/06/your-own-personal-threat-assessment.html