10 Things You Should Know If You Haven’t Bought a Fireproof Home Safe – USA Safe & Vault
If you’re in the market for a fireproof home safe but have never purchased one before, there are many things that you should know. There is nothing more important than protecting your belongings from being destroyed by flames or water damage.
Here are 10 things to consider when buying a new fireproof home safe.
- Locking mechanism
- Smart features
- Offsite backup
- Fire protection
- Burglary resistance
- A safe or filing cabinet
- Contents: value and type
Do Fireproof Safes Actually Work?
It can be difficult to decide on the fireproof safe size that will work best for your needs. Fireproof safes do work but with some limitations. It is these limitations that you should understand. For example, “fireproof” safe are actually “fire resistant” safes as no safe can withstand very high temperatures over extended periods. For example, there are countless cases of homeowners, whose houses were burnt down in forest fires, who were disappointed and frustrated that their “fireproof safes” did not protect their valuables. The forest fires burned too hot and too long and the safes could not withstand the heat.
If burglary protection is what you are looking for, besides the “fireproofing”, make sure that you get a safe rated for burglary protection. That, too, has limitations based on the tools that burglars can used to break in, and the time it takes a competent burglar to break in.
In summary, fireproof safes can do the job they should do, but be careful you don’t risk loss and damage because your expectations were higher than what the safe could provide.
What Documents Should I Keep in a Fireproof Safe?
Researchers recommend that all records be kept in fireproof document safes for at least thirty years before they are discarded, even if they have been digitized. Some record keepers prefer to keep paper documents because it’s easier to organize them physically instead of tracking where digital copies will go and how many versions of each file there have been.
Here are examples of documents that are best stored in a fireproof safe:
- Birth Certificate
- College Transcripts
- Marriage License
- Tax Returns
- Copies of Bank Statements or Checks Written in a Safe Deposit Box
- Copies of Important Emails or Documents
- Original Wills and Testament
- Copies of Credit Card Statements
- Social Security Cards
- Marriage Dissolution Papers/Divorce Decrees
Here are additional documents you could consider for storage in a fireproof box, because they are important to store but not necessarily valuable to a thief:
- Banking Information
- Original House Deed
- Vehicle Title
- College Transcripts
The importance of UL-rated home fireproof document safes
Home fireproof document safes are UL-rated in accordance with what materials (paper or digital) are inside the safe. It’s important to know if you need to store multiple sets of fireproof documents or if you need a fireproof document safe that can withstand a fire for more than 30 minutes. The fire rating is determined by what the fireproof document firebox is actively protecting against.
In summary, the UL-ratng of home fireproof document safes does not guarantee unlimited protection, but it does mean that the safe was subjected to a test and passed. This means that what the stated rating is, is the protection you are likely to get.
Things You Must Know Before Buying A Fireproof Home Safe
1. Fireproof ratings
Safe fire ratings are tested to see if they work. For example, the UL Class 350 1-hour fire rating means that if it’s heated by external temperatures over 1700°F then the inside of the safe will not be hotter than 350°F for at least 1 hour. The safe might have a 1-, 2-, or 3-hour time classification. The safe is also heated and dropped from heights up to 30 feet high to see if it explodes or not.
Home safes come in different sizes, and they hold different numbers of things inside before you need to take them out and put other things in. You should think about what you want to keep safe, which means how many degrees of fire protection it needs.
Fireproof safes use a special locking system. This is called the firebox key-bolt locking system. To open it, you need two keys: a firebox key and a bolt key. You will need to keep your firebox key safe because if you lose it, then you won’t be able to lock the safe again.
4. Burglary ratings
Fireproof safes can help keep your valuables from being stolen. These fireproof safes have a key-bolt locking system and a drill-resistant hardened steel firewall which is 2 inches thick. This keeps burglars from using power tools or torches to try to break into the safe. The burglar resistance rating for these fireproof safes ranges between 40 and 80 minutes, depending on the grade of the safe.
Not all fireproof safes will be the same size. When you are thinking about where to put safes, think about how fireproof they need to be. Moving them around can make them less fire-resistant because of the weather testing they go through.
6. Fire prevention
Home fireproof fire safes help you keep a house from catching on fire. They stop fires by keeping the fire out. That means that if you have expensive things in your house that would be hard to replace, then you should get home safe. Fire insurance companies always recommend this for people who have expensive items in their houses.
7. Spacious fireproof safes
Fireproof safes will keep their contents safe from fire and other disasters. However, there are many different types of safes, and not all are created equal.
8. Contents: value and type
Burglary-resistant safes are the best way to protect your valuables from thieves. They can withstand many different types of attacks, including brute force and fire. The first two categories will be more appropriate for your home or business if you have a large number of guns or other valuables that need protection. The third category is perfect for high-risk locations like banks and other businesses with lots of cash on hand. Some burglars may try to burn down the building in order to get at your money, but these safes are usually able to survive fires up to 1700 degrees.
If you are considering buying a fireproof home safe, it’s important to know what can and must go inside the safe. A fireproof document safe is typically rated on the size of paper or records it can hold before becoming overloaded and needing to go into a bigger fireproof document safe. An extra-large home safe should be able to hold multiple sets of papers simultaneously instead of waiting for one set to be removed and replaced with another set. There are also “file size” discounts available between the next smaller (more expensive, but more manageable) and the next larger (less expensive, but harder to handle) fireproof document safe.
Why Fire Safes are not always “fireproof”
Here is an example from AMSEC on the different temperatures during a fire starting from the interior temperature of the safe, the temperature of an average house fire and what fire ratings their safes achieve. The majority of safe manufacturers list their safes as “fire-resistant” instead of fireproof.
There is a good reason for this. In order for a fire-safe to successfully resist fire, the special composite material sandwiched between the outer and inner steel walls gives off moisture. This creates steam inside of the safe. The steam (according to the Law of Physics) will not go any higher than 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, the fire labels on all fire safes state the length of time tested and that the safe will maintain a temperature of 350 degrees Fahrenheit or less inside the safe. For example 1 hour at 1700 degrees Fahrenheit.
In building the safe, each manufacturer has to ensure that the “steam” created by the composite fire material will be released from the safe. In order to achieve this, each safe by the nature of the engineering cannot be airtight. The reason for this is because they have to release the steam created inside of the safe while the fire is raging outside. This is why most safe manufacturers do NOT state that their safe is “fireproof”. The companies who have been making safes for many years such as Gardall, FireKing, and AMSEC will state, “fire-resistant” rather than fireproof.
The safe will still protect your paper documents, however, when the fire composite material runs out of moisture (usually after the 1 hour, 1.5 hours or 2 hours that it is rated for), the safe will no longer resist the fire. Fortunately, most fires that burn without any water being poured on them will run out of fuel to burn at high temperatures within the first hour. It all depends on what type of material is burning and how much of this material is available.
Check with your local Fire Department to get advice on how long of a fire rating your safe should have.
- Are you close to the fire department and live in the city? A 1-hour fire-rated safe should be fine for your needs.
- Are you out in the country and it will take the fire department quite a bit of time to arrive to put out the fire? We recommend a 2-hour fire safe in this case.
Typically we recommend a minimum of a 1-hour fire rating for any fire or burglar fire safe.
If your budget can afford it a 2-hour fire rating is better. If you are confused about which fire-rated safe to purchase for your home or business, give us a call at 800-207-2259 and we can help you pick which one will work for your budget and needs.
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How to make your safe fireproof?
Fireproof gun safes have been extremely popular lately. After all, it makes sense. Why don’t you take advantage of modern technology and have a fireproof gun safe? That being said, keep reading to find out what you should do if you already have a fireproof safe, and how to protect your safe if it’s not already fireproof!
How to make your gun safe fire resistant?
# 1 Use insulation
The key to having a strong fireproof safe is insulation. Seriously, if you want to fireproof your fireproof gun safe, add as much insulation as possible to it.
Adding insulation is quite simple and even budgetary. To add insulation, you need to head to your nearest hardware store to buy plush material. It’s also important to note that the insulation you purchase must be fire resistant in order for it to be effective.
Once you have the insulation, attach it to the walls of your safe. Essentially, the insulation will work to keep the inside safe and normal when the outside experiences extreme temperatures and flames.
# 2 Choose a place where the safe cannot fall
This is something that many people know or acknowledge. Basically, if you’re trying to eliminate your insecure fun safety as safely as possible, then you should place it somewhere that it can’t fall off easily, such as concrete.
The method behind this thinking is that when the safe physically falls, the air inside the safe also begins to fall. The general environment inside the safe is bad and creates heat and smoke. As such, the contents of your safe are likely to explode.
It’s also important to mention that if your safe falls on a wall or floorboards, it will be heavy and powerful enough that it can cause serious damage or even a domino effect in which more walls or floorboards start to crack.
# 3 Do not keep bullets inside your guns
While you should not keep bullets inside your guns for general fire safety reasons, you should also keep them separate from your guns for fire safety reasons.
A common misconception about firearms is that the trigger must be pulled out in order for it to fire. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. In fact, studies have shown that firearms fire due to changes in air pressure, causing the environment to become extremely tense and warm, which in turn causes the bullet to be ejected.
Well guess what causes the air pressure to change and the environment to be tense and warm? If you guessed fire, you are right! So, if you’re experiencing a house fire and your guns are loaded with bullets, chances are they might get away, which could cause even more damage and possibly even start a fire.
# 4 Use rust and corrosion products
Old age is an aspect that makes safes more susceptible to fire. If the safe is on the older side, they are more likely to have rust and corrosion. There are two things you can do in this situation: either purchase a new safe overall, or use a finish to limit the amount of rust and corrosion on your safe.
Finishing is obviously the cheaper and more efficient option. If you decide to use a finishing head, head to your local super center or hardware store and purchase a coating that protects the safe from rust, corrosion, and any other harmful bacteria and conditions.
# 5 Install away from wood
Another great way to make sure your safe is as secure as possible is to avoid using wood.
I know safes with wooden handles are trendy and aesthetically pleasing. But let’s face it, it’s not the most effective material when you’re trying to reduce the risk of your safe and items exploding in flames.
You can put all the insulating, finishing and even fire retardant materials you want in your wooden gun safe, but it will never be truly fire resistant like metal saw safes. In addition, the risk will constantly increase for your pistol to be burst into flames.
That’s why I say to save you money and reduce your risk altogether by buying either a new fireproof metal gun or a safe fireproof metal gun that you can make fireproof.
How can you improve your benefits if you already have a fire safe?
If you already have a fireproof safe, that’s awesome! But ultimately your job is to keep it in good shape and make sure it stays effective over the years. When doing so, make sure you keep your fireproof safe.
Maintenance is easy. Just make sure there is no dust or gasket particles around the fireproof safe. Also pay attention to wear. Since fire safes are usually stored inside, it takes a lot of effort to wear them out, but you never know what might happen.
It’s important to keep your fireproof safe safe because if you find anything unusual or disturbing, you can take care of it right there and then, or even replace the entire safe completely. So you don’t have to wait for a fire to realize that your safe is not working properly.
#2 Check Ratings
It is important to understand that ratings are constantly changing and evolving. That being said, your fireproof safe, which was once the highest industry standard, might not be all that great.
This is why it is important to review safety ratings and fire safety information monthly. So if the ratings change and your fire safe becomes low profile, you have time to buy a new fire safe before anything happens.
# 3 Keep valuables in it
If you have a fireproof safe, use it! Sometimes people doubt the validity of a fire safe, so they don’t store their most valuable items in it. Well, if you have a fireproof safe, you should use it and store whatever you want to survive in it.
Even if your safe is primarily used to store your weapons, you still have room to store some valuables such as papers and jewelry.
Which safe to choose with an electronic or mechanical lock
If you are faced with the need to purchase a reliable safe for the first time, then you will certainly ask yourself the question of choosing a model that provides the highest possible security for storing content. At the same time, many people prefer to focus on the reviews of real owners of certain storage models who have some experience in their operation. However, it is not entirely correct to do this, because each owner will praise his own model of the safe, not being able to compare with other models. This is especially noticeable in the reviews left by the owners of safes with electronic and mechanical locks. Mechanical owners will recommend mechanical locks, while code owners will recommend electronic devices.
Many experts may notice that the question posed in the title of the article is not entirely correct. After all, it takes into account only the fundamental difference in design, not paying attention to the burglary resistance class of a particular device. For example, a key lock in a cheap safe will be much worse than an electronic lock in a bank vault. And, conversely, a cheap electronic lock can be hacked easier than a burglary-resistant mechanical model. So, if we compare electronic and mechanical safe locks, then only in terms of their operational convenience in solving specific problems. Before drawing any conclusions regarding the advantages and disadvantages of the types of locks under consideration, ask yourself the following questions.
- What type of safe are we talking about: office, home, bank, medicine, burglar-proof, fireproof, etc.?
- Will the safe be guarded 24/7?
- What type of valuables will be stored in the safe?
- Who is allowed to access the contents of the vault?
Depending on the security requirements of the safe, the lock mechanism will have a different class of burglar protection. Think about whether you want to protect yourself from professional burglars, or do you just need to keep valuables away from visitors, servants, children? Will you open the safe every day, or will you look into it once a week? What measures are you prepared to take if you lose the key or the lock fails? Finally, how much are you willing to spend on a new safe?
Before starting the consideration of the relevant models, we suggest referring to the terminology. By mechanical locks, it is customary to mean coded locking mechanisms, which are also called “limbo”. But experts suggest that key locks are also referred to as “mechanics”, since the grooves on the key are also a kind of code. The main advantage of mechanical locks is the simplicity of their design and operation. Note that we are not talking about the simplicity of security measures here. Mechanical locks are much less likely to fail than electronic models, plus they do not require a power source. However, if we talk about the potential possibility of combining mechanical locks with additional options, whether it be a door opening counter or an alarm system, then here we have to face certain limitations that are successfully bypassed by electronic locks for safes.
Safe vaults equipped with key locks are a real classic. They have been used for several centuries in a row, constantly improving the design of both the safes themselves and the locking mechanisms used in them. Today we can say that many models of safes with key locks have reached almost complete perfection, providing a level of security at the level of code and electronic mechanisms. According to the type of design, modern key locks for safes are divided into lever and cylinder locks, and lever models are especially popular and widespread. The number of code combinations for such locks can reach several hundred thousand, which means that it will not work to open the lever mechanism with a simple selection.
The advantages of key locks include reliability, simplicity and stability. They will not fail due to the appearance of rust or freezing, as a result of which they can be installed, including in rooms with a high level of humidity and low temperature conditions. If you need to give access to the contents of the safe for another employee, you can simply give him the key, without further delay. As for the disadvantages, the main one is the need for vigilant protection of the key itself so that it does not fall into the hands of intruders. By the way, making a cast from the safe key is useless. If we are talking about a high-quality model of a burglar-resistant safe, a special system will not allow the use of a duplicate key. If you encounter a broken or stuck key in the lock, the service center will help you solve the problem without the need to damage or replace the mechanical lock.
In the old days, combination locks could be seen, for example, on suitcases or briefcases-diplomats, closed on a mechanism with a set of numbers. These were the combination locks of the mechanical type, which are now being discussed. Of course, in the case of safe combination locks, we are talking about a much more convenient and perfect design of the highest degree of reliability. The main thing is to use them without too much fuss. The encoder knob turns slowly with a high level of precision. It is enough to make a mistake by half a division, and the code will be entered incorrectly. So, if you need to quickly open the safe, doing it several times a day, this type of lock will seem too inconvenient for you. In all other respects, mechanical combination locks are quite a worthy option for a lock design, characterized by presentability and burglary resistance. The most famous manufacturer of combination locks is the American company La Gard, which supplies its safes to many companies in the European Union.
Electronic combination locks are modern mechanisms invented at the end of the last century. Until recently, they were considered too complex to manufacture and, as a result, too expensive. Only the most elite models of vaults were equipped with electronic locks, the owners of which did not spare money for reliability and safety. But technological progress does not stand still, and today electronic locks can be found even in budget safes, especially when it comes to Chinese products. On sale you can find safes for office or home use, equipped with electronic systems. No less popular are hotel models of safes with electronic locks. Such storages can be additionally equipped with sound or light alarms, which allows the use of the system by people with disabilities. If we talk about safes for special purposes, for example, used to store medicines, then you can put a counter on the number of openings on them.
The advantages of using electronic locks include the ergonomics and intuitiveness of the interface, as well as the absence of the need to keep the key secure. However, there are also many disadvantages. If the key can be lost, then the code can simply be forgotten. In this case, you will have to use a master key, which is recommended to be kept in a safe place, like the key to a key lock. Many users of electronic locks keep the master key inside the safe, which of course is a huge mistake. The disadvantages also include the need to protect electronics from moisture and temperature extremes. If the surrounding conditions are not suitable, then the electronic lock may simply refuse to work.
Finally, electronics require a quality power supply. In simple terms, it needs good batteries, the compartment for which, for obvious reasons, is located in the internal compartment.