Better Safe than Sorrow!
What You Should Consider When Shopping for a Safe for Your Home

Jerry ScainiA home safe is useful for storing legal documents, jewelry or personal items. Having a home safe can provide you with added protection against fire, burglary, and water damage.

When considering a home safe there are many things to bear in mind. One consideration is the location of the safe, and this can be determined in part on the design and location of your home. For example, placing the safe in the basement, especially in a flood-prone area, might not be the best choice. Typically, a safe provider can assist you in determining the best location for your safe.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when buying your safe:

  • There are two general categories of safes: burglary safes and fire safes; they are classified using two different methods: burglary rating or fire rating.
  • The rating or classification of a safe indicates the degree of protection that the safe will provide its contents in the case of fire or attempted burglary.
  • Safes are rated by either Underwriters Laboratory (UL) or Underwriters Laboratories Canada (ULC).
  • There are 6 burglary ratings for a safe, ranging from B-G.
  • Fire ratings range from 1-4 hours.
  • The levels of ratings are dependent on the level of security you are looking for.

Safes that protect against fire are made with thin sheets of steel or plastic that are molded together to form an inner and outer shell. The units are insulated, so in the event of a fire, the temperature inside the safe will remain the same for a fixed amount of time. Most safes in residential homes have a rating of 1-2 hours with a maximum of up to 4 hours of fire rating.

Safes that are designed for burglary prevention are made of either solid steel or solid steel with a composite fill such as concrete. Burglary safes are tested by using common picking tools, mechanical or portable electric tools, grinders, drills or pressure devices. This type of testing determines the amount of time before the safe fails.

Another consideration is water resistance. Although not part of a safe’s rating, protection against water tends to be an added feature of residential safes. When looking at water resistance, the safe provider will have “verified” markings displayed on the safe, indicating the safe meets the manufacturer’s criteria for water resistance.

Other Considerations

  • If your home features a central alarm, your safe should be tied into the alarm system.
  • Your safe should be anchored, even if it is in a hidden location.
  • Your safe should be equipped with a redundant lock. This system has a mechanical and electronic lock in one, so if one fails the other will allow you access to the safe.
  • You should not talk about your safe or reveal its location to anyone.

The key to shopping for a safe is discretion, knowledge, and investment. A balance of these factors will leave your items better protected.

Jerry Scaini is a Senior Risk Consultant for Chubb Personal Risk Services’ Risk Consulting Group.

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