I was thinking about all the important things that you can lose during a fire. All the personal things that have sentimental value like photos, artwork, clothes, and many other things. Also, all the valuable things like cash, important documents, and things that you can either replace or is just too hard and expensive to restore.
With that in mind, fireproof bags are a great way to keep documents safe in case of fires, obviously, but also floods and other possible natural disasters in theory. Since the question that remains is that if they really do work. Then, even if you’re convinced that they do work in general, you should be certain that the one that you have will work when you need it. Imagine that you find out the hard way that it doesn’t. You lose important documents and maybe even cash because of one simple, minor mistake.
So, do fireproof bags really work? Yes, they do work. Now, there are a few things to consider before choosing the right one for you. After all, you don’t want to waste money and valuable things with a bag that promises to protect your things but doesn’t really in the end. One common mistake is also not taking into consideration what you’re going to put in the bag.
Anyway, the point is that you have to check a few things before buying one. With that in mind, below you can find every important section that you have to consider before getting yours.
Another important thing is to remember that fireproof bags will protect your documents only so far. You shouldn’t expect that all your house will come down and the documents will be there in perfect conditions. There are a temperature and time limit that the bag will be able to protect your things.
A good tip is to keep all the irreplaceable things in a vault outside of your house if you can. Obviously, it seems like the use of the fireproof bag would be for nothing if you did that, but that’s not the case at all. It’s just that the fireproof bag will only keep your documents safe so far until you take everything out of the house or building.
The main thing is that fireproof bags are a life savior. This is one more thing that you should have in your prepper arsenal. It’s right there alongside the faraday cage and your bug in and out strategies.
So, going straight to the point, the fireproof bag does work, but before you go out to get yours, take a few things into consideration. This way, you’re better equipped to make the right decision for your situation.
For example, did you know that you need different bags for paper and CDs, DVDs, and flash drives? Do you know why? Well, you can find out everything about it below. And for those who already know about fireproof document bags but want a list of top bags, click here.
The first thing is to check out the material that the fireproof bag is made of. This is one of the most important things in your decision because you want a bag that works. So, you should check the material before buying.
Fiberglass is by far the best material that is used to make those bags. You should actually totally not buy a fireproof bag if it isn’t made of fiberglass. This material has a high resistance to fire in general. So, it’s reliable and efficient.
One more thing that you should look for in the material section is to get a fireproof bag that is coated with silicone. The silicone ensures that you don’t get an itchy sensation that fiberglass usually causes on the skin. This is really just to ensure that you don’t have any discomfort from handling the bag.
The silicone also helps the bag last longer, protecting the fiberglass from dust and things that are in the air. As long as you do buy a fireproof bag that has fiberglass coated with silicone you should be protected from the itchy sensation.
So, make sure that the bag is made of fiberglass and that the same is coated with silicone. This way you get a bag that really is fireproof and that is also not itchy on the skin. Just get one that has these two materials and in the worse scenario, you get a bag that works.
The internal temperature is another crucial part that you should consider. This factor regards to how hot it gets inside of the bag. Depending on the temperature, the content can still be damaged or even destroyed. This is why you should check the internal temperature that gets inside.
Most bags will stay under 350 degrees Fahrenheit, but in some cases, you need bags that stay under even smaller figures than those. That’s why you have to take into consideration the content and the internal temperature information. If you can’t find in the package, you should be able to find it on the manufacturer’s website.
The internal temperature is also important because it influences how long the documents will last inside of the bag during the fire. This is obviously important since you may take a little longer to take other important things out of the house. Every item in this article is important but the internal temperature is one to watch out for because it varies from model to model.
To recap, most models you’re going to find have internal temperatures under the 350 degrees Fahrenheit, but some models can stay under 125 degrees. What you have to do is not only find out that information but also know about what you are going to keep inside of the bag. The last thing you want is to spend money on the wrong bag. If you do proper research on this, you should get a good quality bag that gets the job done for you.
External temperatures are little trickier because you can’t possibly know what the temperature will be during a fire. You can get estimates, but it’s not the same thing. Also, that’s not the only thing to consider here. You should also think about how long the bag will be exposed, which we’ll talk about below.
Anyway, fires will get on average a temperature of 1550 degrees Fahrenheit, but again, these are estimates. The point is that you should check it out the temperature that the bag is capable of resisting. In the case of the fiberglass ones, you will get a bag made of a tough, resistant material.
A good tip is to also keep the bag in a place that would be somewhat protected during a fire. A place that wouldn’t be as exposed in the case of a fire. This way, you conserve the temperature longer. So, the bag and the documents would be able to last longer.
The secret is to put in a place that you can readily reach and, again, is somewhat protected. It doesn’t need to be a vault but as long as it is not just on a table, for instance.
So, check it out what the temperature that the bag is capable of resisting is, and get the one that fits your needs.
The Content of the Bag
Now, it’s time for what you’re trying to protect after all. The content of the fireproof bag determines directly what kind of bag that you’re going to need. For example, documents, paper in general, will require one internal temperature that is different from flash drives. That’s why what you’re going to put inside the bags are so important.
If you’re storing documents or any paper for the matter, the bag has to stay under 350 degrees inside. Check if the bag is able to stay under this temperature, and then you’re good to go. That’s your main concern when it comes to the content. Figure out if what you want to put inside is able to remain in perfect conditions in the advertised internal temperature. In the case of documents, most standards fiberglass bags will work for you.
Now, when you’re going to store any sort of media like CDs, DVDs, and flash drives, you’re going to need a bag that stays under 125 degrees during a fire. This sort of material is less resistant to high temperatures. Sometimes even if the plastic in the flash drive remains in perfect conditions, the digital files will get damaged and unusable, making you lose the possibility of even restoring the files.
So, determine the content that you’re going to store inside the bag before buying one. What you can do is also get more than one bag that fits both situations. Just to make sure that you have one for every scenario.
Can You Use It Again?
Believe it or not, some fireproof bags are reusable. This is another factor to consider when you’re thinking about what model to buy. Obviously, they’re going to be a factor when it comes to the price, but it’s worth the extra money if you have and wants to invest more. Now, you may be spending unnecessary money if you think that it’s not likely that you’re going to be involved in more than one fire accident in your life. Still, you never know.
Reusable bags are also interesting because your bag can protect your documents against other disasters, so you get to use the bag more than once without necessarily having to be involved in more than one accidental fire.
Again, the only downside of opting for a reusable bag is that it’s a little more expensive. You should make a list of pros and cons to decide what is best for you. If you think about it, usually, we don’t spend just a few more dollars and then end up spending way more having to buy another one.
So, take into consideration whether or not this feature is important to you. It’s not as important as the material and the content that you’re going to store in it, but it’s still quite important since it affects the price and the future need to have to replace the bag for another one.
How You’re Going to Use It
This sounds a lot like the content decision, but there’s a slight difference that it’s worth considering before buying your fireproof bag. Do you want to use the fireproof bag as a vault or just an emergency bag? The use that you want to give to it is important because if you want to use as a “vault” you should consider investing more.
Also, if you are going to use it as a kind of vault, you should consider looking for bags that have a master lock security. Some fireproof bags have a system that only the owner of the bag is able to open it. This is, obviously, an important feature to have. Especially if you are storing important, personal documents inside of the bag. Besides, you never know who’s going to find the bag in case of a disaster.
Now, if you’re going to use the fireproof bag just as an emergency, you may be able to invest a little less. As a bag to only be used for emergencies, you don’t need to worry about master lock security. Only about the resistance of the material and the size.
So, before buying one, consider the use you intend to give to the fireproof bag. If you don’t want to use it as a vault, you don’t need to invest the extra money with the security lock.
How Long Will It Be Exposed
On average, the fireproof bag should only stay up to 30 minutes under the 1550 degrees Fahrenheit conditions, but you can’t predict something like this. What you can do is consider if you to look for models that offer more resistance time or if those conditions are enough for you. This is another decision that will affect the price but may be worth for you.
Obviously, you can’t predict how long the bag will get exposed to the heat of the fire, but you can pick a bag that resists more or less time. Any bag that resists 30 minutes is already good enough, but if you can find a model that promises to resist even more time than that and you want to invest in it, it can be a good idea. Especially if you are storing important documents and your house is big.
So, for most cases, you’re good to go with bags that resist all the way up to 30 minutes. If you think that you need more than that, you have a few options. Now, it’s important to point out that the time that the bag will be able to protect your documents is also determined by the external temperature.
One thing that 99% of people don’t think about a fireproof bag before buying it, it’s whether or not the bag is waterproof as well. It sounds counterintuitive and just not right, but there are two reasons why that’s so.
First, while trying to cease the fire, people will use water to, at the very least, contain the fire. Second, your bag should also be able to protect your documents during floods. It’s very common to lose important documents during floods. You don’t want to spend a lot of money on a fireproof bag and lose your things in a flood.
A good fireproof bag that is also waterproof will come with double covering involving a Velcro and a zipper. This will be enough to protect your documents and digital media against water. Just make sure that both the zipper and the Velcro are of high quality.
So, besides having to worry about the material and the external and internal temperatures, it’s a good idea to consider a waterproof bag as well. This is important because it’s better to be safe than sorry. The price won’t increase too much if you add this one extra feature.
Lastly, but not at all the least important, you have to think about the size of the bag that you’re going to buy. Obviously, this is going to interfere in the price and will be determined by the content that you need to protect inside of the bag. Unless you have just a few, small things, it’s good to get a good-sized bag because you’ll always have more room to store things.
Now, you obviously have to consider the things that you want to put inside of it. In the case of digital media like flash drives and CDs, you’ll usually need less space. So, for this case, you can get a bag with a smaller size.
If you want to protect a lot of documents in printed paper or even larger objects, you should definitely get a bag with a bigger size. The advantage of buying a large bag, in either case, is that if at some point if you need to store other things, you’re not limited by the size.
So, if you get a large size bag, you may not use all that space now, but it can be an interesting thing in the future if you need to store more documents. If you’re in doubt, get a medium-sized bag. As long you have space left to put more things in it. Now that you have become familiar with fireproof document bags, go to my top document bags I recommend here.
Why would I need a bag that can withstand 350F to carry stuff out of a burning house ?
If it’s cool enough that I’m not dead then a cardboard box would work, otherwise I’m toast anyway …
Great article. I have a 30 minute/1550 degree sentry firebox now. I was thinking of buying a fire proof bag to place my documents inside that then inside the firebox. Is that something you would recommend?