Safe Cooking in an Emergency

This week’s mailbag covers questions about cooking in the great outdoors, how to shield yourself from internet marketing companies and my personal recommendations for guns, multitools and more.

Let’s dive right in.

In case of a disaster, when you need to cook food, how can the smell of cooking food be contained so that it does not attract others?

— Peter S. 

While there’s no way to completely eliminate the smell of food when cooking, there are a few things you should take into consideration to minimize tempting aromas.

First, avoid cooking foods with lots of spices, which creates a stronger smell. Another thing you can do is start another fire at the same time and use it to burn wood or trash, thus producing another smell that will help mask the food odors. Also try to avoid cooking when it’s windy so the smell won’t waft as far.

In addition, you could look into getting a thermal cooker, which is basically a closed device that cooks food without the use of a continuous heat source. However, these appliances can be bulky and quite heavy and aren’t typically something you would have with you in an emergency situation.

I was always told dry firing can damage your firearm. Is this true?

— Tyler M. 

The fact is, Tyler, it depends on your gun — most importantly, whether it’s a centerfire or rimfire.

If it’s a centerfire gun such as a Glock, you can safely dry fire the handgun all day long. But if you own a .22, for example, you do not want to dry fire it.

Unfortunately, in the event of an emergency, we can’t all bug out to a perfect, isolated, tree-covered spot to escape imminent danger. My family lives in a town surrounded by flat, agricultural land with hardly a tree in sight. The fields are either barren during the winter or flooded later for the production of rice (and they are privately owned). Anyone attempting to camp out around here would stick out like a sore thumb. What do you suggest?

— Barbara R. 

Unfortunately, Barbara, there’s not a perfect answer. That being said, I strongly recommend being fully prepared to bug out at a moment’s notice.

What I mean is since you are limited by the lack of safe places nearby, you should plan to leave your home before things get too bad. Ideally, you should evacuate before the disaster or dangerous situation occurs if you can.

Of course, depending on the circumstances, this may not always be possible, so I would also have a plan in place if you have to stay in your home. You might want to consider building some type of shelter in your basement or elsewhere on your property where you could safely hide out during an emergency.

What about all those internet marketing companies that put tracking cookies on your computer? How do I avoid having my internet activity monitored?

— Robert Y. 

I recommend using a virtual private network (VPN) anytime you surf the internet — whether you’re at home or on public Wi-Fi. A VPN allows you to browse the internet anonymously by masking your location and personal information.

There are many different options when it comes to VPNs. Personally, I use TunnelBear’s service, which is effective and affordable. Click here for a free seven-day trial.

Note that no matter which VPN you go with, the most important thing is to make sure the one you use doesn’t store any information (TunnelBear does not log customer activity).

I had major shoulder surgery a year ago and I did not have the use of my dominant hand for an extended length of time, so it was a good opportunity to learn to shoot with the weaker hand. I have shared that with other people I work with, and it was generally understood if you are injured, you need to have a working knowledge of how to operate your firearm with both hands. Can you aim effectively, can you reload, etc. 

— Dave S. 

This is a great point, Dave. In fact, in the handgun course I teach at my Spy Ranch, I cover shooting with your off hand, as well as reloading one-handed.

The fact is if you are in a gunfight and get shot in your dominant arm, you need to be able to transition to your other side. Most people do survive gunshot wounds, so it’s critical that you stay in the fight.

I see that Gerber makes many different styles of multitools. Would you be able to narrow down your choice?

— Charles J. 

You’re right, Charles, Gerber does make quite a lot of different multitools. In the end, it all comes down to personal preference and what size you want to carry.

One option I like is the Gerber Centerdrive Multitool, which sells for $85 on Amazon. This is a full-size multitool that should meet most of your basic tool needs, including a full-size set of pliers, knife blade and screwdriver. Check it out:

Another great option is the Gerber Suspension Multi-Pliers, which is smaller and sells for around $27 on Amazon.

It’s hard to find a handgun that fits a woman’s small hand. Realizing there are grip substitutes, what is your recommendation for a 9 mm or a firearm suited to the smaller hand? 

— Iris Z. 

Great question, Iris. I recommend the Glock 19, which is what my wife carries. It’s got a subcompact frame, so it’s perfect for people with smaller hands.

Now, if the 19 is still too big, you can try the Glock 26. This gun is even smaller than the 19, but still available in 9 mm.

Stay safe,

Jason Hanson

Jason Hanson

Chris Campbell

Written By Jason Hanson

Jason Hanson is a former CIA officer and security specialist. He’s appeared on numerous television shows, including ABC’s Shark Tank and NBC’s Today show. To get free survival tips from Jason, click here.