Why You Can’t Rely on a Cheap Safe

29 Nov

Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: An article from TheSimplePrepper.com to The Prepper Journal. As always, if you have information for Preppers that you would like to share then enter into the Prepper Writing Contest with a chance to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards with the top prize being a $300 card to purchase your own prepping supplies

Think of the most valuable and irreplaceable things you keep around your home – old family photographs, important documents like birth certificates, a backup of your computer’s hard drive and the lifetime of work it contains, stockpiles of cash for a rainy day, and even precious jewelry and family heirlooms, as well as things you need to control, such as firearms. Consider this, what would happen to these possessions in the event of a burglary, fire, or flood?  Are you prepared?

Thankfully, there’s an easy solution to protecting your valuables at home – a home safe. High-end safes are designed to not only survive the destruction of your home, but to protect whatever you store inside them from being ruined or severely damaged.

While you may already have a safe, it’s worth taking a closer look at how it will stand up in the event of a burglary or a major disaster. Ideally, you want a safe that can protect against nearly anything that you could imagine happening to your home – unfortunately, most standard safes are not able to protect against capable burglars, fires, or floods. Check out what you should consider when investing in a safe so that you can rest easy knowing that your irreplaceable possessions are protected no matter what happens.

What to Consider When Protecting Against Burglary

The first thing that many people think of protecting against when considering a safe is burglary. Protecting your valuables against burglars requires more than just a basic fireproof safe – unlike a fire, burglars are able to actively pick the locks on cheap safes and can even drill their way through a safe that is not thick enough to provide security. A common misconception is that hidden safes – like those that are placed into your floor or a wall – will provide protection against burglars. However, these safes are often cheaply designed and will rapidly open up for thieves if they are discovered (not to mention most wall and floor safes are not fire resistant).

Instead, the best way to judge a safe is to look at its protection rating, which gives an idea of how long a safe can withstand an attack for. These ratings range from withstanding mere seconds of attack by thieves to protecting against sustained attacks with tools and torches for up to 30 minutes. Be sure to purchase a safe from a trusted manufacturer, and when possible be sure to look for a UL label indicating the safe has undergone a standard testing procedure to ensure safety.

The exact level of protection you need depends on a couple factors. The most important is whether burglars will be working against time while they try to pick your safe. If you live far out in the countryside and don’t have a home security system, even the most secure safe is vulnerable to an hours-long attack by thieves. On the other hand, if your home is armed with an alarm system and you live close to the local police station, you may be able to spend less money on a less secure safe. In addition, consider the total value of everything you plan to store in your safe. Obviously, the higher the value the more secure a safe you should opt for. Also be sure to consult with your home insurance company to see if they have specific requirements to insure the contents of your safe.

What to Consider When Protecting Against Fire

The ability to protect irreplaceable valuables against a fire that turns everything else in your home to ashes is one of the best reasons to invest in a high-quality safe. Not every safe is resistant to fire, and not every fire resistant safe is designed equally – which is why, if you want to be sure that your valuables will be there when you return to your home after a disaster, it’s worth spending extra on a safe that you can trust.

When choosing a safe to protect against fires, there are a few essential features to look for. First, opt for a safe with a minimum of one hour rated resistance time against fire. Even fire resistant safes are only able to keep their internal temperature down for so long, and this time decreases if your safe is close to where the fire started – the hottest area of the burn. Second, look for safes that come with a fire seal around the door. These seals are designed to expand when they heat up, keeping out flames and smoke as well as any water that gets on the safe during firefighting efforts. Plus, fire seals have the added advantage that they will keep out moisture on a day-to-day basis, which reduces the chance of steam forming inside the safe during a fire and ruining important documents.

Another thing to consider is that sensitive electronics – like a computer hard drive – and old photographs have different requirements than documents and money. These media are highly sensitive to moisture inside the safe during a fire since some amount of steam is almost certain to form. Although safes specifically designed to keep electronics and media safe by keeping their internal temperature even lower than a standard fire-proof safe are available, they are typically not secure against burglars. The best option then is to store a small, secondary electronics safe inside your primary safe.

(Editor’s Note: Did you know that if you work with classified materials from the U.S. Government and have an approved safe in your office, that storing your personal valuables, like gold coins or jewelry or cash in it is a violation of Federal Law? Even your EDC items like your purse or wallet stored in the safe during work hours is punishable by fine and imprisonment. This is because the addition of monetary valuables to the classified materials increases the likelihood that the classified materials will be compromised as a result of an attempted theft. Know before you go – to prison.) 

What to Consider When Protecting Against Flood

While many fire resistant safes are also resistant to flooding, especially if they have a fire seal around the door, it’s important to double-check. In the case that you cannot find a fire and water resistant safe that fits your needs, another option is to place a waterproof box inside your safe. However, make sure that whatever waterproof material you opt for is able to withstand the high temperatures that your safe’s interior is likely to reach during a fire (typically 350 degrees).

What to Consider When Protecting Against EMP

Although not the disaster that is most likely to befall your home, it’s worth considering the possibility of an electromagnetic pulse when choosing a safe. After all, the last thing you want after an emergency is to return to your home only to find that you cannot access your valuables because the electronic combination lock has been disabled. To protect against this, high-end safes typically come with either an EMP-safe electronic lock or a redundant manual and electronic locking system. For valuable electronics stored in your safe consider using Faraday bags.

Make Sure You Consider Your Top Threats When Choosing a Home Safe

Investing in a safe is one of the best ways to protect your irreplaceable valuables in the event of a disaster, but it’s important to remember that not all safes are created equally. When choosing a safe, it is well worth the added investment to choose a model that will protect its contents against most anything that can happen.

BIO: The Simple Prepper is a survival blog devoted to educating the casual Prepper on topics such as disaster preparedness, emergency survival, prepper kits, self-reliance, and personal defense.  Our mission is to make prepping easy and fun! 

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3 Survival Tips From Season 4 of Bear Grylls’s “Running Wild”

4 Aug

Written by Wild Bill on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: As preppers know there have been several TV shows that deal with the prepper lifestyle, from the extreme, Dooms Day Preppers, to the benign shows that show up on the DIY and HGTV networks to the wilderness builders of the “off the grid” lifestyle. Among these is Bear Grylls and his “Running Wild” Series. I thought a closer look at a couple of his adventures might be entertaining.

Bear Grylls is a little bit past his heyday in terms of his fame and the attention that’s paid to him. Some have questioned the accuracy of his various television programs and others have simply moved on to new shows and new TV personalities, as is the way of things. But one clever way Grylls has found around this, for those still paying attention, is by incorporating celebrities into his adventures. Who can forget his getting permission from the Secret Service to allow Obama to take a taste of a bear-discarded salmon in Alaska? All while surrounded by 60+ agents/snipers/staff. By performing feats of daring and survival not just alone, but alongside people who aren’t accustomed to such things, Grylls is sometimes better able to demonstrate the real difficulties of what’s going on. Or at least, that’s how it looks.

Running Wild With Bear Grylls is a show that’s been running for a few years now, and while 2018’s season four (4) didn’t quite get the same ratings as its predecessor, it’s been largely appreciated by audiences. Reviews for individual episodes were generally strong, and one all-encompassing write-up hailed it as an ideal form of summer television. This does indeed speak to its entertainment value, as well as an enjoyable slate of celebrity guests ranging from famous actors to athletes. But for his faults, Bear Grylls can still teach a thing or two about survival as well. So we wanted to look back at some of the most interesting tips from the season that just concluded.

Rappelling

Rappelling is not anything new for a Bear Grylls program, nor in fact is it new on this particular show. But one episode in particular – with actress Lena Headey – was particularly instructive. Headey is best known for her role as Cersei Lannister on the popular drama Game Of Thrones. Her character is brutal, tough, and savvy, but not one we frequently see performing any kind of physical feat. It was thus a little bit different to see Headey repelling down a cliff side with Grylls. A site devoted to all things Thrones carried a clip of the scene, in which Grylls actually gives some pointers rather than just helping her along. Rappelling isn’t something most people wind up doing without planning on it, but this episode was a nice reminder that it can be a very useful skill for time in the wilderness. One that every prepper should look into as a additional tool in their bag of tricks. Doing it the second time when you really need to trumps doing it for the first time in a real TEOTWAWKI situation.

Quick Protein

Tennis legend Roger Federer was perhaps one of the more surprising and interesting guests for this show. Earlier this year, at the Australian Open, Federer closing in on his 20th major title seemed like all but a certainty – and, indeed, he triumphed. But a year before that, at the same tournament in 2017, he lifted a major trophy for the first time in a few years. He was back on top of the tennis world, and it was only a month or so later that he met with Grylls to film their episode in the Swiss Alps. It seems odd timing in the context of Federer’s career of late, but he seemed to have a great time with Grylls in what was perhaps one of the safer expeditions. One nice tip though, unpleasant as it seems, was to eat a raw fish eye for quick protein. Of course, the two had to catch the fish. But it’s a nice reminder that in such a situation if you can’t cook or make a fire, you can at least eat parts of an animal raw to sustain yourself and get a spark of energy.

Starting Fires

While the Roger Federer episode may have focused on finding protein without cooking, an earlier episode in the season, featuring actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt actually concerned how to start a fire with limited resources. In that episode, Gordon-Levitt – who’s known for a wide range of film appearances, including 500 Days Of SummerLooper, and The Dark Knight Rises – treks with Grylls through parts of Kenya. And at one point, after Grylls had told Gordon-Levitt to collect elephant feces, the pair use it as the base for a fire (which they set by directing sunlight through a camera lens). It’s not foolproof, but it’s a nice story to remember if you ever need to set a fire when lost in the wild.

While we as preppers know many other ways to start a fire, get some needed protein and fats and get down from a mountain, you have to admire his choice of fuels!

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Accidents are Increasing on the Information Superhighway

9 Jun

Written by Wild Bill on The Prepper Journal.

Preppers are planners and the basis for our planning is information. We collect it through the methods we have learned through the normal processes of education, life experience, observation, analysis, and my favorite, trial and error. And as soon as man discovered how to record information, in crude cave drawings, etched into stone, or clay there, I believe mis-information was invented as well. There is an old joke about two cavemen talking, the first says “Ugh!” and the second says “Ugh! and then the first responds “Ugh, Ugh!” and the second replies “Don’t change the subject!” I know somewhere during the stone age Gork was rejected by Petunia and he etched some insults in a cave wall about her. Funny thing is someone college professor probably used those etchings to do his or her PHD thesis.

Fast forward a few eons and now information, and its counterpart misinformation, travel at speeds approaching the speed of light. For example in the financial world if you are reading about some investment opportunity in the Wall Street Journal you have already missed the boat because it reports what already happened. Others closer to the origins of the data have already seized the opportunity, set the base price and you will be paying their dividends should you bite.

The information super highway has so changed the world that while we attempt to catch up and think we are keeping up we are like the racing greyhounds forever hoping to catch that mechanical rabbit.

And, as preppers, seeking information upon which to base real economic decisions on (do I build out that greenhouse to increase my sustainable food production? More ammo or more MRE’s?) is challenging as we now live in a world where we are bombarded with information and misinformation – “thousands WILL DIE as a result of (fill-in-the-blank)!!!!!” has lead to a new equation of skewed TRUTH:

Where E = Establishment source, a = Agenda, F = Fake, and T = Truth, and the only solution is null; one must be prepared for increasing accidents across the information superhighway as a result of skewed information. I have used this example before: a horse race between an American horse and a Russian horse. The American horse wins. Headline in America: “American Horse Wins!” Headline in Russia: “Russian Horse Finishes Second, American Horse Finishes Next to Last!” – both true statement.

So, in  a recent post on finding information when the grid is down I thought it appropriate to followup with a post  on the challenges of finding information before the grid goes down, something that has become a labyrinth. And since the Internet is becoming more the source for information I want to focus on that medium. For instance I question the following map presented by Oxford University claiming to show internet usage worldwide:

Really, the world’s second most populated country and the home of call centers and outsourcing IT services, India, is less “connected” than some Central African Republics??!! Really? (And I would feel slighted if I were Canadian though it does depict where most Canadians live.)

Okay, so where does the internet stack up against print media and television in the delivery of news.

The internet surpassed print media several years ago and it is now challenging television, and that passes my smell test. Everywhere we go we see people heads-down focused on their electronic devices. Even if only 15% of that time is watching the news it makes sense AND so many people get their news feeds through social media outlets, Facebook in particular.

This has become so prevalent that there are college degrees now in optimizing web content (SEO.) I have taken a couple of on-line courses through the University of California in the past year to learn how to increase market penetration, to place keywords and phrases strategically to get better results from searches, to mimic the searching patterns that most people use. I use it everyday, all day in adding pictures as well as key phrases that are relevant to the posts you see on TPJ.

Really, What Are They Selling?

“Every time I Google a current news story it give me the related articles from CNN, The New York Times, Vox, NBC, Express.co.uk, Salon, and the BBC”…..TPJ – all impeachable sources. All sources that even Wikipedia lists as “leftist, or left-leaning, or skewed to liberal politics.”  Why? Because Google is also left-leaning. Few secrets in this world are as guarded as the specifics of Googles search algorithms. 

The news media is a business, and like every business it sells a product or service in exchange for monies (advertising). The product is content and their business used to be information as content. But dry factual information does not sell itself or well in our faster and faster paced society. Information needs to be “embellished”, that is spun, dressed up, and packaged for the target audience. This has lead to specialization which, in some things is very good (medicine, for example) but alas in the media it brings with it agenda, spin and secondary goals.

There is an upside to this – we don’t have to sit and watch all the fluff news stories to get financial information we might be interested in, we can go to those sources directly and thus attempt to keep up with the ever increasing flow of information. We can also go directly to sources for weather information as opposed to again, sitting through the story on the truck load of live chickens that were loosed on the interstate as the result of an accident. Specialization I believe is the result of so much information being available. If one were to attempt to get a degree from a university in Physics these days, 4 years is not enough cover all the specialties. The same with medicine, the law (legislators just have no discipline) and many other technical degree programs.

But really, What Exactly Are They Selling?

The news media is selling Google Analytics, period. Bold statement, let me make my case.

Google Analytics are used to sell advertising. The higher their rating the more they can charge for ads. Google provides the web best audience analytics on the planet and is the go-to source for all media outlets when it comes to the details on their audience. And the more the “news” is skewed to their demographic, the higher their score, the more they can demand for advertising, the more they can narrow in on a demographic (female voters between the ages of…., professionals….., etc.) This circle is indeed vicious as it is self-perpetuating, it feeds upon itself and spirals inward faster and faster – in that sense it is an amazing thing to watch. By this I mean that the analytics received are the result of the SEO and the manipulation of the data presented to generate better scores in the analytics. There are rules in place to stop the obvious ways to skew the results (excessive use of key phrases, use of unrelated keywords to increase traffic, etc.) but where there is a way, there is always a way around.

TV vs The Internet

I know I don’t have to convince anyone that when Frank Loyd Right said “Television is just chewing gum for the eyes” (or did he?) some 60 years ago he was speaking to what has become a universal truth. Bruce Springsteen released a song titled “57 Channels and Nothing On” in 1992 and now cable TV services have 300+ channel of nothing on. I counted my Direct TV channels once and it was 336 at the time, with 157 being 24/7 infomercials. Dish and all the cable companies have the same business model. They sell content masked (poorly) as infomercial channels that are pure advertising.

The internet has clearly disproved the age-old theory that if you put enough monkeys at enough typewriters (keyboards) for long enough they will eventually produce – the works of Shakespeare, the Bible, or some other established literary accomplishment. Mythbusters would declare this “Busted!”

While the world of information it has opened is impressive and pervasive the information superhighway is now blurred it its reporting of news, in a fog generated by Google, FaceBook and the other social media platforms. I have seen videos on YouTube related to chemicals and weapons that are downright dangerous in the misinformation they provide, more a case of lack of knowledge as opposed to some sinister agenda in my opinion. I do not cut the news media the same slack, which is my whole point.

On social media every political statement by a celebrity, one currently working, or one from a sit-com cancelled in the 1970’s “gets the pulpit” as long as they have said something negative and political. Fox News and Breitbart promote these just as much as all the sources I mentioned above. Why? Because they draw endless comments and the more comments they get the better the Google Analytics they receive, the more that can make the case for larger audience penetration and ask for increased fees for advertising. But that is only the first layer for social media. The next layer is the fake-comments. In almost every post on any subject, be it politics, or a cat video, or a swift water rescue, there will be a comment about politics. They will state an outrages position. These are usually done by the news producer who posted the article in the first place in order to generate comments which generate higher Google Analytics which…you see the agenda. They are usually in the first three comments posted and if you look at the poster of the comments most are fake, made up, just a few pictures, no real data on the individual. Tools of the new advertising trade. THIS is how the internet news business is now run on the information superhighway. It was not taught in the courses I took but anyone looking for “a way” to increase traffic will think of it when they see the Google Analytics Case Studies.

As preppers making financial and lifestyle decisions on an almost daily basis by processing the information at hand and our understanding of it I think most of us knew already that the “news business” is first and foremost a for-profit business, and that the news presented is merely content to produce their product, increased Google Analytics . All the old cliche’s apply: follow the money, Caveat-emptor, believe 50% of what you hear and 90% of what you see.

We prepare as a result of the information we get and the information we get is highly suspect from the news media. Proceed accordingly.

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