It’s possible that your home safe isn’t the ideal option for storing your valuable jewels, rare coins, or Mickey Mantle rookie card from 1952. Since it offers a higher level of security than a regular safe, a home safe is usually the best place to store items of this sort. Alpine safes can be an affordable solution for protecting valuables you cannot replace, such as family photos, birth certificates, passports, and tax documents, while keeping them within your reach. In the event of a fire or other disaster, you may rest certain that the critical papers safeguarding your life, your property, and your loved ones are safe within your best fireproof cabinets.
You can estimate how big your safe will need by placing everything in one place and taking its dimensions. It should be sufficient to store items such as a stack of documents 8.5 inches by 11 inches high in a home safe that typically has a capacity of 1.2 to 1.3 cubic feet.
Choose Your Own Adventures
In addition to theft protection, home safes can also be resistant to water and fire. Consumer Reports does not test safes, but many are evaluated by third parties such as UL and Intertek (which use the ETL mark). These companies use the following criteria:
The top concern among most customers is fire, according to Greg Bonsib, director of brand management at SentrySafe, a prominent manufacturer based in Rochester, N.Y. According to the National Fire Protection Association, one in four people will experience a severe fire that requires them to call 911 at some point in their lives.
There are two major providers of fireproof safes, UL and Intertek. Each provides different information about what the safe is capable of protecting and how long it will protect it. John Drengenberg, director of consumer safety at UL in Northbrook, Illinois says that safes designed to preserve paper documents should not go over 350 degrees inside during a fire. He advises avoiding going over 150 degrees if you want to keep ancient cassette recordings or 35mm slides. On the other hand, if you want to keep computer disks and DVDs safe, make sure that the internal temperature of the safe won’t go over 125 degrees. You should be able to find this information on a sticker or label on the safe itself as well as on the box it came in.
The average home safe provides 30 minutes of security, but you can also find ones that provide an hour or longer, but these tend to be more expensive. Bonsib believes that half an hour is more than enough time. “Fires often spread across a house, so 20 minutes is about the average in a single room.”
Unlike commercial safes used in jewelry shops, residential safes are rarely evaluated independently for burglary resistance. To assess safe burglary ratings, UL uses tools, torches, and explosives. According to Drengenberg, a safe with a TL-15 rating is capable of resisting conventional tools for at least 15 minutes against an assault.
Although most residential safes do not advertise their level of protection against burglary, they do, in fact, provide some security. Los Angeles-based security expert Chris E. McGoey says thieves often only take what they can carry in a single sweep of a home. “As soon as they have enough,” he explains, “they’re out.”
The 100 or more pounds that an empty 1.2- or 1.3-cubic-foot safe would weigh makes it less desirable to a thief than jewelry, cameras, and small devices that may be carried away more easily. Many safes come with bolt-down kits to further discourage would-be burglars. They can also be buried or built into the ground.
A home safe not only protects against fire and robbery, but it can also protect against water damage in some cases. Dale Soos, an engineer at Intertek, says his company affixes a “certified” symbol to safes that have been tested and found to be watertight according to manufacturer specifications. Safes are submerged in water to mimic the consequences of flooding or burst water lines.
Other Factors to Consider
In spite of the fact that fire chests are smaller than safes, they can still hold many important documents despite being priced at $25 or higher. For a safe with a capacity of 1.2 to 1.3 cubic feet, most people spend $150 to $300. Prices can go up for safes with additional features like drawers and shelves.
A wide variety of stores sell home safes, including Home Depot, Lowe’s, Sears, and even Amazon.com. It is important to consider delivery costs when ordering online, even if free shipping is offered. You will have access to a greater selection and probably more competent sales assistance when you shop at a safe store that specializes in safes.
A few factors should be taken into consideration when deciding where to put your safe. Different situations call for different considerations, such as the layout of your house. McGoey says that thieves often head straight for your master bedroom, so that may not be the best location for a safe. Soos states that the safest place in the event of a fire is your basement since there is often less down there to burn. However, if you live in a flood-prone area, many experts say moving the safe to your basement may not be a smart decision.