Selecting and buying a home safe can be an important step in protecting one's assets. Safes can offer protection from theft and/or fire and, in the case of gun safes, they can prevent unwanted access to personal firearms. Unauthorised use can often be perpetrated by a child in the home or an intruder, neither being a safe or desirable situation. Home safes allow homeowners to mitigate the risk of damage or theft of their most valuable items- money, important documents, jewellery, digital information, photographs, and anything else that holds significant monetary or personal value. Hence, when choosing a safe, it is important to select one based on your needs that has been proven to protect your specific items.
The makers of safes abide by an industry rating system. At first glance, this system is an undecipherable hodge-podge of letters and numbers. However, learning this system has its value- buying a better quality box may make the difference between saving and losing one's things. Insurance companies recognise the value home safes bring to homeowners, and will often offer some discount for the purchase and use of these items.
Quality fire safes usually are made up of an inner and outer shell, as well as insulating material. The best safes have a seal that will resist moisture. The body is relatively thin. The best burglary safes are solid steel with or without composite material. These hard materials make penetration with tools much more difficult.
Here we will discuss fire and burglary ratings. There are separate ratings for fire safes and burglary safes. Underwriters' Laboratories participates in comprehensive, unbiased consumer product testing. Home safes that bear a UL label have been tested by this group. It is important to note that safes are not totally fireproof or unbreachable, rather they are rated based on how much time it takes for the materials inside to either be damaged, destroyed, or reached by applying force. A Residential Security Container, RSC, rating is relatively new and combines a fire rating and burglary rating. It is suitable for consumers who want both types of protection.
Fire safes are designed to keep the inside from reaching a high temperatures (more than 177 degrees Celsius) for a given period of time. Most offer one or two hours of protection. Different materials vary in their relative damage in the case of fires. For example, digital material like data disks and CD's may be compromised before paper. A one-hour fire rating is established when the safe is placed in a furnace and exposed to very high external temperatures (843 degrees) for one hour. It is then allowed to passively cool. The safe should be able to maintain an internal temperature of less than 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius) throughout the process. Such a safe is designated to have a Class 350 1-hour fire rating.
Burglary ratings are divided into two areas: construction, the physical makeup of the safe, and test performance, their ability to withstand breach by tools, force, etc. Construction ratings typically range from B-classification to a C-Rate. The B-rating suggests that steel doors are less than 1" thick and the steel body is less than ½" thick. A C-rating is given to safes with at least a 1" thick steel door and at least ½" thick body. Performance is determined by measuring the time it takes to breach the safe. A rating of U.L. TL-15 means that testing engineers were able to open the safe within 15 minutes with the use of hand tools, drills, and pressure-imposing devices. A rating of TL- 30x6 implies that the testers put all six sides of the safe through the testing procedure. A specialty rating of TRTL-30 is given to those home safes that withstand 30 minutes of attempts with more specialised tools like torches and pry bars
Home safe ratings help consumers decide what they can reasonably expect from the safes they purchase. It is important to consider current and future needs when shopping for a home safe. To help you on your way, we have written a guide covering the best home safe here.