In the US and the rest of the world, fires happen quite often in homes and offices, destroying valuable belongings such as certificates and photographs. If you are considering getting a fireproof safe to protect the items you own, you might want to know whether fireproof safes are really worth it.
Are Fireproof Safes Safe? Depending on the fireproof rating of a fireproof safe, it can protect the items stored in it for a considerable period, ranging from 30 minutes to two hours.
According to Bocmac’s Locksmiths, nothing is truly fireproof, as everything can burn under the right fuel, temperature, and time conditions. However, with the right fireproof safe, you can safeguard valuables from fires for up to 120 minutes.
What Is A Fireproof Safe?
A fireproof safe is a storage unit created with fire-resistant materials. It is designed to keep its contents safe from a fire for a specified period of time. A fireproof safe could be a box, a filing cabinet, a cupboard, or even a vault.
When purchasing a fireproof safe, it is important for you to consider what you intend to store in the safe. Factors such as the size and type of items that the fireproof safe are very important.
Generally, there are three main categories of products that you can store in a fireproof safe:
- Data or Magnetic Media: This category includes video tapes and audio tapes, among other things. This data media should be protected from the electromagnetic interference created by a fire, as this might corrupt the information that is magnetically captured.
- Digital media: This includes media that store data away from the computers, like memory sticks, DVDs, and the like.
- Paper: This includes paper documents that are important to you as well as cash notes. It is not advisable to keep large amounts of cash in a fireproof safe at home though.
Different types of products start degradation at different temperatures. For the three categories of products mentioned above, here are the usual temperatures at which they begin to degrade:
- Data: 52 degrees Celsius / 125 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Digital: 120 degrees Celsius / 248 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Paper: 177 degrees Celsius / 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Fireproof safes are typically designed to be fire resistant and not always burglar resistant, but they could often offer protection from burglars, depending on their resilience. It would be safer to purchase a burglar fire safe, as this offers protection from fire and from burglars.
There are so many burglar fire safes on the market that you can select from. The differences are their dimensions, their fire-resistant ratings (that is how much time they can withstand a fire), their level of resistance to burglary attempts, and the amount they cost.
Also, ensure to check the internal dimensions of a safe before making a purchase in order to avoid buying a smaller safe than you require.
The amount of insulation materials that are required to keep the inner temperature below 52 degrees Celsius (125 degrees Fahrenheit) causes fireproof safes to appear a lot larger on the outside than they actually are on the inside.
If you move around a lot, you can also get a fireproof bag that keeps your documents like your passport safe from fire and water.
Are There Different Types Of Fireproof Safes?
Yes, there are different types of fireproof safes, and the distinction between them is based on their price range, internal and external dimensions, and fire resistance rating.
When getting a fireproof safe, it is important to be aware of the types of safes that exist, so you can find the product that is perfect for whatever item you want to keep safe from a fire.
One major feature that distinguishes one fireproof safe from the other is the dimension. Fireproof safes have two notable sizes – the outer size and the inner size.
The outer size is usually a lot larger than the inner size because the walls of the safe are made from thick materials that give the safe its insulating properties.
Apart from the size, another physical factor of fireproof safes is their weight. Some fireproof safes are heavier than others because of their size and the fireproof materials used to make them. You should consider the weight of a fireproof safe if portability is important to you.
Another factor is the fire-resistance rating. Different safes are made from materials that have varying levels of repelling heat from a fire, and for different amounts of time.
Generally, features like size and fire-resistance rating will determine the cost of a fireproof safe. The larger a fireproof safe, and the higher its ability to withstand heat, the more expensive it likely will be. Some fireproof safes do not only protect items from fires, but they also protect against water.
One other feature that can be used to categorize fireproof safes is the type of material they can hold. For instance, there are fireproof document safes that are specifically for keeping your documents safe in case there is a fire outbreak.
There are also digital fireproof safes and analog fireproof safes. In addition, some fireproof safes have electronic locks with changeable codes, led indicators, low power options, and a battery-operated motion-sensitive light.
Why Do I Need A Fireproof Safe?
You need a fireproof safe to keep your important and valuable possessions safe in case there is a fire outbreak in your home or office. If you have documents that cannot be replaced easily it can be helpful to keep them in a fireproof safe for storage.
Fireproof safes offer you some peace of mind that your valuables are safe from fire, and sometimes burglars and floods.
We all have documents and valuables that we need to be readily available in case of emergencies, and these documents cannot be kept in a safe deposit box at any bank or anywhere your documents cannot be accessed easily.
There are a lot of things at home or in an office that can easily combust or help rapidly spread a fire through the house. Keeping important documents or valuables that are hard or impossible to replace in a fireproof safe gives you fewer things to worry about in the unfortunate event of a fire outbreak.
Where To Put Your Fireproof Safe?
Your fireproof safe should be put on the ground floor if your building has levels. The safe should be placed in the inner corner of two exterior walls, as these walls usually stay cool in the event of a fire.
Your fireproof safe should be kept on the ground floor because heat rises from the bottom to the top, meaning your safe will be exposed to higher temperatures if it is installed on the top floor.
If you must put your fireproof safe on the top floor, then purchase a fireproof safe with impact protection and install a sprinkler above the safe.
It is not recommended to install your fireproof safe on the floor because while floor safes are more effective in keeping burglars away from your valuables, they only offer minimal protection to your valuables in case of a fire outbreak.
Wall safes also offer your valuables a poor form of protection from fire and burglars. There is a general idea (often promoted in movies) that wall safes always contain important items that might be valuable.
If a burglar breaks into your home, the first place they are likely to ransack is the master bedroom, then they will likely search the closet or behind picture frames for a wall safe.
Some of the recommended places to install your fireproof safe at home to protect your valuables from fire, burglars, and floods are listed below:
- In the event of a fire, place your safe near a sprinkler and in a corner where two outside walls meet, as this provides support and protection. Your fireproof safe should also be anchored, providing safety from burglars too.
- In the event of a home burglary, the safe should be installed in a difficult-to-find and low-traffic area. It can be under an enclosed stairway with an access door, in a guest bedroom closet with a door that blends in, or in a utility room.
- In the event of a flood, build a concrete or steel base to support the base of the safe and install it at least two feet above ground level. Some models of fireproof safe offer water resistance and can protect their contents from flooding.
What Should I Put In A Fireproof Safe?
Documents that you might need in important situations, and those that might be hard to replace are among the items that you should put in a fireproof safe. Your fireproof safe should also contain your valuables but not too much cash.
The contents of a fireproof safe can include:
- Audio Tapes and Video Tapes:
These could be tapes of your loved ones or records of business transactions or agreements that you don’t want to lose in a fire.
This category includes birth certificates, school certificates, and any other document certifying that you have completed a course of study or training.
If a certificate belonging to you or a member of your household gets damaged in a fire, getting a new one could be a lot of stress.
These are legal documents that prove ownership of a property or asset. Deeds are commonly used when there is a transfer of ownership from one person or company to another.
- Insurance policies:
An insurance policy is a contract between you and an insurance company that specifies what is and is not insured. If there is a fire outbreak, you will need your insurance information ready at hand.
Your passport is another document that you should store in a fireproof safe because of its level of importance, and in case you need to embark on an emergency trip.
Your passport is literally your ticket to other countries and can also be used as a form of identity. While you can keep your passport in your purse or wallet, any of those can get lost or stolen easily.
- Photos and other media:
Photographs contain and represent memories that you likely do not want to lose in the event of a fire or other disaster. These memories could also be contained in USB / memory sticks, external hard drives, or even floppy disks.
Of recent, there have been remarkable advancements in technology and these memories can be stored on a cloud that can be accessed easily with an internet connection.
However, if you are among the population of people who need these memories kept the old-fashioned way, you should get a fireproof safe to protect them.
It is recommended that your will should be kept in at least three locations: with your lawyer, with the executor of your will, and in a home safe, preferably a fireproof safe. Your will should be safe from fire at all three locations.
- Medical Records:
This could include a list of family doctors, prescription medication copies, and information about your health insurance.
- Other legal and financial documents:
Whether there is a fire or not, you should always keep your important documents safe, such as those pertaining to your funds, investments, bank accounts, retirement plans, powers of attorney, car title, and so on.
Your fireproof safe can also hold cash, family heirlooms, films, and negatives.
How Long Do Fireproof Safes Last?
A fireproof safe can last for many decades as long as it is kept in good condition and it is well maintained. In the case of a fire outbreak, a fireproof safe can last as long as its specified fire limit.
When there is a fire, fireproof safes can last for at least thirty minutes (half an hour) to sixty minutes (one hour) and can withstand temperatures of between 1550 degrees Celsius and 1770 degrees Fahrenheit.Each model of a fireproof safe has its own specified fireproof rating and how long it can last in a fire depends on its material makeup. Always ensure to check this out before you make a purchase.