Security Safes For The Home Buying Guide
If you have piles of cash, rare jewels or irreplaceable collectibles, the safest place to store them is in a bank safe-deposit box. But for smaller amounts of cash, important papers like birth certificates, marriage licenses, home or auto deeds and passports, a home safe can provide security against several dangers, including theft, fire and water damage.
Is Your Safe For Valuables?
If you want a safe for a valuable coin collection, rare collectible or similar items that are likely to be targeted in a burglary, you need a safe that is designed to keep the bad guys out. There is a wide range of ratings given to home burglary safes, many from Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Ratings you are likely to see include:
- B-rated: Recommended for storing $5,000 or less in valuables
- B/C-rated: For up to $10,000 in content value
- RSC: For $15,000 in content value
- C-rated: Recommended for up to $30,000 in value
- TL-15: The safe can withstand a 15-minute attack with common tools and devices; recommended if you are storing up to $200,000 in valuables
The higher the rating, the more expensive the safe will be.
A large, heavy safe can deter burglars just by the difficulty of moving it, but most safes have bolt-down kits to secure the safe in place. This is especially important if your safe is small. Your safe should be made of heavy steel, with a door that is at least 1/2-inch thick and 1/4-inch thick walls. Choose a safe at least one size larger than you think you need, and keep it in a location that is easy to access and has sufficient light for finding contents. An electronic lock is easier to use than a traditional mechanical lock. You can change the combination yourself, plus avoid the difficulties of rotating a mechanical lock or trying to see the numbers.
Is Your Safe For Important Papers?
If you want a safe to protect important papers in case of a fire, you need a fire safe. These are not made to keep out burglars; they are heavily insulated to protect contents from heat, smoke and sometimes water. A fire safe is often small and portable, and many open with a simple key. Fire safes are rated by UL and other agencies, based on the length of time the interior of the safe remains below a certain temperature. Some considerations to keep in mind:
A typical fire resistant safe will stay below 350 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 30 minutes when exposed to a home fire. This is sufficient for most papers and documents. A safe rated for one hour of fire resistance is an even better choice. If you plan to store pictures, cassettes, DVDs or CDs, you’ll need a safe rated to keep the interior no more than 125 degrees Fahrenheit.
Though you can find fire resistant safes rated for two hours or longer, these are more expensive and probably unnecessary for the average homeowner.
Do You Want Protection Against Both Burglars And Fire?
If you want a safe that combines fire resistance and burglary protection, you need a composite safe. These are constructed with very thick, insulated walls, heavy doors and safety features to keep out thieves, plus keep the interior temperature low enough to protect the contents during a fire. Composite safes are a popular choice for home use, but tend to be more expensive and have less space on the inside relative to outer dimensions, compared to safes designed for just burglary or fire protection.
Do You Have Guns?
If you are a gun owner, you need a safe that keeps your weapons safely secured from children in the home and one that prevents would-be thieves from stealing your firearms. Though many people use their burglary safe to also hold a pistol or handgun, if you have larger guns, such as hunting rifles or shotguns, you will need a taller safe with racks to hold weapons securely.
You also need enough space to hold ammunition. Some gun safes use a simple key lock, which is sufficient if you are only concerned about keeping young children away from weapons. A combination or electronic lock is a better choice for higher security in case burglars target your home. Many gun safes also are fire resistant.
When it comes to home security, a safe provides extra peace of mind. Whether you want to keep your documents preserved in a fire, or keep fine jewelry out of the hands of thieves, choosing the right home safe will help you protect your belongings.