Are Safes Fireproof and do They Really Work?
A safe is a place where you keep all your valuables and important documents. It is protected with a password, or it comes with a lock and key patterns. Important documents such as passports, birth certificates, will copy, and other legal papers are kept safely inside these safes.
When you install in a safe in your place, you take a lot of care to ensure that it is installed in the right place, in a location that is hard to access. So, when your home is damaged in a fire accident, the first question that would come to your mind is if your safes are fireproof.
In this article, we will attempt to answer this question and also give you a broad overview about setting up safes in your house.
Are safes really fireproof? How are they fireproofed?
What are some of the fundamental concepts that you have to bear in mind while installing safes at your place? Why do you need safes in the first place? Keep reading to know the answers to these questions here.
Why do You Need a Safe in Your Home?
It is quite saddening to see that not many people have understood the importance of getting a safe installed in their homes in spite of the increased instances of burglaries in and around their locality. Don’t you have a safe setup in your home, yet? Here are some convincing reasons that will compel to get one, right now:
1. Protection Against Thefts
This is the first and foremost reason why you need a safe in your home. You may have some invaluable possessions that you want to store safely in a place where others don’t have access to.
A safe is the best way to store these, in that case. While getting a safe setup in your home is good for everyone, it is definitely imperative for you, if you are living in a place where break-ins and burglaries happen quite frequently.
2. Help During Emergencies
More often than not, the important paperwork that you store in the safes proves to be handy for you during emergencies. For example, if your house is damaged in a fire, you will need the original insurance papers to claim for the damages caused, so that you don’t have to pay out of your pocket for the same.
If the papers had been stored in your regular cupboard, they would have also got burnt. Safes, being fireproof, are the best place to store the items that mean a lot to you. Therefore, when you are caught unawares in an emergency, you can count on these safes to rescue you.
3. Great Way of Keeping Precious Items
Gold and diamonds are not the only precious items that need safes for storing them. In your life, there may be many other precious items that money can’t buy. You might be the proud owner of a rare family picture that has been passed on to you, generation after generation.
You might be the owner of a precious heirloom that has been part of your family for hundreds of years. It is not a prudent idea to lock these precious items in ordinary boxes. Valuable items like these deserve high-quality safes that protect them from all kinds of accidents – man-made & natural.
Likewise, if you have any previous jewelry at your home, you should start using safes to keep them secure, instead of keeping them in jewelry boxes. These boxes are very easy to access for thieves. Also, when you drop them once or twice, these boxes tend to break easily, thereby damaging the jewels inside.
So, the thumb rule to follow is this – if you have anything precious in your home, you have to get a safe installed as early as possible.
4. Storing Cash
Wouldn’t you love a secret place in your house where you can store away the excess cash that you have? Safes are not affected by market crashes, bank issues, volatility in the economy and other issues.
This is why, in the earlier times, our great grandfathers used to store their money in safes instead of keeping them as deposits in the banks. This served two purposes.
Firstly, since the safes were installed in remote locations, the money kept in them was safe and free from burglary attacks. Secondly, you could have liquid cash with you in seconds, in the event of an emergency.
5. Storing Weapons and Other Risky Items
If you are staying a country where possession of guns is allowed as per the law, you would want to get yourself one, for your own security. In that case, you have to ensure that you keep them in a place that is very safe and out of reach for children.
Safes designed for weapons are way different and more sophisticated when compared to safes that are used for storing cash and valuables. You will have to pay a lot of attention, while choosing the size of the safe, in this case. You would need a big safe that is big enough to hold additional weapons that you may add to your collection, in the future.
By now, you would have got a fair idea on why you need safes in your home. Now let us look at some of the types of safes you can consider. Each type is designed for a specific purpose; therefore, you can choose the one that suits your requirements.
Types of Safes that are Worth Considering
It is very important to have clarity in your mind regarding your requirements and budget constraints when it comes to choosing the perfect safes for your residential building.
Some of you may want a safe for safeguarding important papers, while some of you may need a safe to protect your valuables from burglars. Regardless of your requirement, you should do enough groundwork to choose the safe that serves the purpose for which it was bought.
1. Basic Fire-Resistant Safes
If you like the comfort that safes offer you but don’t have the money to splurge on them, the simple fire-resistant safes are good choices for you. You need to remember that these are not fireproof safes but only fire-resistant. They cannot fight fire for a long time.
We wouldn’t recommend you to opt for this safe, because the quality, durability and the features of this safe are not that great for you to invest in them. This is why you can opt for the second type of safe mentioned below.
2. Burglary Safes
These are fireproof safes designed specifically to give you protection against burglaries and thefts. These are made from heavy-duty steel, which assures you that they will last for a long time.
These safes can be concealed in remote locations, as per your preference and you can be assured that they won’t betray your trust even in the times of natural disasters or a huge fire accident.
Burglary safes are of different types. You can choose the right one based on the space constraints in your place. If you can dedicate a huge area for a safe and if you have no plans to move it to another place anytime in the future, you can opt for standalone safes.
They are huge and can be used with different varieties of locks. These are safes that come as individual units, and you don’t have to mount them on any location. They are very heavy and highly durable as well.
If you are very particular about the confidentiality of the items that you intend to place inside the safes, you can opt for wall safes. These are not visible to anybody else, and you can smartly connect the safe to the walls through internal nuts and bolts.
These are also fireproof and made from heavy-duty steel, which lends immense durability to the product. Today, wall safes are very popular among young house owners.
Floor safes, another type of burglary safes, were used by people till some years ago. Even today, in some old houses, you may still find floor safes. These are installed beneath the floor at the time of construction. While they do provide 100% protection to your valuables, they are not very convenient to install and use.
You have to bend down every time you need access to your items. Also, since they are under the ground, they are prone to damage from rust, mold, improper drainage, etc. Even though you invest in a fireproof, steel safe, you may not get the desired results because of the area you have installed it in, in the case of floor safes.
3. Gun Safes
These are the safes that are exclusively designed to store guns and other weapons that you may legally own. There are many types of gun safes available in the market in different sizes and price ranges.
If you are looking at a basic safety to keep your gun in a location that is out of reach from kids and other family members, you can opt for a not-so-costly fire-resistant gun safe.
On the other hand, if you have an excellent collection of rare and valuable guns & weapons, you need a powerful and high-performance safe. In this case, a fire-resistance safe would not be of much help you to you. You will need a fireproof safe to be sure that your rare collection of weapons will be well-protected against all kinds of damage.
4. Jewelry Safes
This is the most common type of safes that are needed by people across the globe today. While some people do prefer to keep most of their jewelry in bank lockers, there are certain pieces of heirloom jewelry or antique/artistic jewelry that they want to keep in their home lockers, so that they are safe yet easily accessible.
Jewelry safes are very beautiful; however, that’s not the yardstick based on which you should choose them. You should choose safes that can fit well in remote locations yet are easily accessible to you. Opt for the ones that come with various compartments and enough space to store your valuable pieces in good condition.
Things to keep in a Safe at Home
It is quite surprising to know that in spite of installing the latest and sophisticated safes in their homes, not many people know to make use of them properly. More often than not, people don’t know the do’s and don’ts of safeguarding items in their safes. Are you confused about the same? The following section will give you some clarity on this subject.
What Can You Keep in a Safe?
When a thief enters your home and threatens you to open the safe and clear the items in it, you would be at a great loss if you have been storing lots of cash and jewels in it. Bank lockers are the best places to keep these jewels.
According to experts, a safe should only be used to keep important documents that are not very important to the thief but mean a lot to you. Occasionally, you could also keep a few pieces of jewelry that is part of your family heirloom and a nominal amount of cash in your safe.
Here are the items that your safe must have:
1. Important documents that prove to be handy during emergencies
Passports, insurance papers, original copy of your will, social security cards, complete medical record of your family, spare keys, documents detailing your financial information, property titles, power of attorney papers, etc. are some of the important papers that should form part of your safe.
A burglar may not be very interested in these, but you may need these during a crisis. The main reason why these should be kept in the safe is that you need them immediately when emergency strikes. You will not have the time to run to your bank and get them retrieved from the locker.
You should ensure that you invest in fireproof safes for saving these. This way, you can be assured of the safety of these important papers, even in the event of natural disasters such as storms, floods, fire accidents and the like. We will explain in the later sections how safes are fireproofed and whether they really work.
In short, a home safe is a place where you will store the important documents that you need to access in a few seconds. Another important point to note is you have to use a safe that can withstand a maximum temperature of 350 degrees F. The documents can get burnt beyond this temperature,
2. Personal Valuables
If you have rare photographs, exotic collection of coins & weapons used by your ancestors, vintage cameras, some family jewelry and a reasonable amount of cash, you can use your home-safe to store them. However, photos and discs should be kept in safes that can handle a maximum heat of 125 degrees F only.
The photos cannot handle heat beyond this level. Always buy your safes after testing them for fire ratings and other damage, so that you can be 100% sure of the safety of your valuables kept inside.
Where to Put a Safe in Your House
It is important to spend some time to choose the right location for setting up the fireproof safe in your home. You may have chosen a safe with the highest fire rating, and you may have also planned for the right kind of belongings to go inside it. However, if you haven’t installed it at the right place, the entire purpose of buying a safe gets defeated.
Before knowing about the strategic locations for your safes, here are a few points that you could consider:
It is highly recommended that you buy two fireproof safes at a time because you can use one to be kept in a secret location (this can contain your valuables and cash) whereas you can keep the other one in a good but easily accessible location (this can contain your important paperwork).
Many people assume that one has to hide his home safe. This is not required at all. In fact, security experts advise you against hiding your safe. More often than not, when you hide it in a location that you cannot access easily, you cannot be sure of the safety of the articles inside it.
Most-favored locations for installing your safes
Now, let’s see some of the top locations that you can consider while installing safes.
- You can install your safe on a shelf that is located against a concrete wall. The wall will not only give a concealing effect to the safe, but it will also give you quite an easy access. You can easily get to your safe without having to bend too much.
- You can just place the safes on the floors if they are big enough. If you have to anchor the safes on the floors, you have to be sure that the safes are really large. However, you can opt for this only if you have a very spacious room; else, the safe may make your home look small.
- You can install the safes inside the walls. This will require quite a bit of work, and you must get the help of a professional locksmith to get this installed. Else, you might end up damaging your walls permanently.
- You can install the safes right inside the floors, provided the floors are made from cement or concrete. It is quite tough to install these safes as it will require you to set right your drainage system as well. While these safes are not visible to anyone easily, they are not usually preferred, because floor safes get easily damaged from problems related to rust, drainage problem and accumulation of dust & debris from underneath the floors.
How are Fireproof Safes Made?
We have been telling you to buy safes that have the highest fire rating so that you can protect your valuables. However, did you know how these safes are fireproofed? Here is how:
Using gypsum boards
This is a very common method of fireproofing safes. Here, gypsum boards, which are nothing but drywall, are placed in between the metal sheets of the safe. When there is a fire accident outside, the hydrate-rich gypsum boards ensure that the internal temperature of the safe is maintained at all times.
The safe is filled with water vapor because of these hydrates. As a result of this, a perfect balance is achieved between the humidity and heat factor. However, this is maintained only for a specific time from the event of the fire accident.
Using concrete composites
In this method, a composite material is used to seal the safe with intumescent tubes, thereby protecting the interiors of your safe by a large extent.
These make the safes very heavy, but they are durable and worth every penny that you pay for them. They come for a longer time than the safes that use gypsum boards for fireproofing. This is because these safes don’t need to be replaced frequently unlike the ones using gypsum boards.
Do fireproof safes work properly?
The answer to this question is yes. All you need to do is buy the safes that have passed the relevant tests. When you are buying fireproof safes in the USA, you should buy those that are UL 72 passed. Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is the largest test institute in the USA.
For testing data media in fireproof safes, this institute keeps a temperature of 125 degrees F inside the safe. The safe is then put inside a furnace, where it is heated for two hours at a whopping 1850 degrees F.
After 2 hours, the furnace is allowed to cool down with the safe inside it. It takes around 3 days for the cooling process to get completed.
Only a safe that has been manufactured well with its humidity and temperature balance intact will pass this test. After 3 days, when the safe is removed from the furnace and when the valuables inside it are found to be safe, the safe is marked as UL72 passed.
In a nutshell, we would like to reiterate that if you want your safes to be 100% fireproof, you should buy the ones that have been given classifications by the respective testing institutions of your country. Buy the right fireproof safe for home use and assure the safety of your documents and valuables by clicking here right now!