Safe Shopping: How to Find the Right Safe for Your Valuables

By: Gavyn Smith
It is a great feeling when you know you need a safe. Once you actually start looking for a safe, it means that you have enough valuables that you want to protect them from damage, so congratulations! Those valuables you can protect with a safe may include anything from important documents such as birth certificates, social security cards, or passports, to personal valuables such as diamonds, money, or that impossible-to-get Michael Jordan rookie card. For whatever reason you may be looking to buy a safe, I would hope to answer your questions by writing this article today.

First things first, you need to know what kind of safe you are looking for. They have several different kinds available for you to buy, so you need to know beforehand what purpose your safe will serve in your home. Older safes do not do much more than separate your valuables form the environment, however with advancements in technology, there are some pretty safe safes. For example, you can choose to protect your valuables from fire and water damage, or you may want to protect them mainly from burglars, or if you want both, you can get a fire and burglar-resistant safe.

One thing to take note of is that I said burglar-resistant instead of burglar-proof. It is important to couple your safes with a home security system to cut the burglar short from breaking into the safe. Given enough time, any burglar can break into a safe, or simply steal the safe for later use, so stopping the burglar in his tracks is a good idea!

Alright, back to the main idea, the first type of safe I mentioned was a fire-resistant safe. These are actually pretty innovative in their inner workings, so I will discuss that to satisfy the readers' curiosity. The first thing you want to look for when buying a fire-resistant safe is the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) rating. When you go safe shopping, you can choose from multiple UL classes: A, B, or C. Class C offers your documents the least protection, but they are slated to protect paper documents for one hour at temperatures up to 1700? F. Class B affords two hours of protection for your documents at a bit higher temperatures, while class A gives you about four hours of protection at temperatures as high as 2000? F! However, in the typical home use, you will probably just need to stick with classes B or C, since class A safes can get quite expensive.

Fire-resistant safes are constructed by incorporating two thin walls of metal that can resist fire for a certain amount of time. These walls help to keep the inside at an optimal temperature for your valuables. In addition to the walls, found in between each metal wall is an insulating material. Whenever the outside wall is subjected to fire, the insulating material releases a moisturizing substance that acts to protect the documents as well as keep the internal safe temperature at a minimum. In general, these safes are exceptional at protecting your belongings from fire hazards, but afford only minimal protection in the event of burglary.

With the burglary-resistant safes, they are constructed using thicker materials to resist drilling and other means to break into them. Instead of the letter system used to rate the fire-resistant safes, numbers are used to indicate door and wall thickness, which is the most important factor in preventing burglary. The higher ratings, from about three to five, are exceptionally resistant to drilling and use of torches to break in. It should be noted that these safes, with their thick walls, are not usually constructed to resist fire. If you are in the market for a safe that has both burglar and fire-resistant features, then you should look into the combination safes which include both forms of protection.

As you can see, the first thing you need figure out when you are out shopping for a safe is what purpose you want your safe to serve. Combination safes are now a great option because they combine both safe's features as explained above. However, if you feel you may only need one of the options, they are generally cheaper than the combination safes.


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