Vol. 1, Issue 12May 2010


Safe at Home

The home-safe business is booming, as more people apparently are deciding to keep their valuables close at hand in these difficult times.

Of course, there is always the old standby, the bank safe-deposit box. For a reasonable fee, you can keep your important papers, jewelry and other valuables in the vault at your bank. But if you have things you need regularly, such as jewelry or passports, or if you just want to have immediate access, you might need a home safe.

Home safes come in many shapes and sizes, from small, fire-proof boxes to wall safes to large, commercial-size safes. Some safes are made for specific purposes, such as to store jewelry or firearms. You can put a safe on a shelf, in your wall or bolted to the floor of your basement. So if you are in the market for a home safe, start by determining what you want to store, and how.

For example, if you want a place to keep an extra couple hundred dollars for emergencies, consider an inexpensive option such as safes hidden inside books or tin cans. Of course, if a thief recognizes that the book or the can is a safe, you probably are out of luck. But the idea is that a thief is unlikely to find a book-safe on a shelf with lots of other books, or a can-safe tucked into your pantry.

Perhaps you have papers or small items that are valuable to you but not to anyone else – things like photos or your marriage license or your child’s first tooth. You can keep these together in one place and safe from fire by buying a small fire-proof box. Check the Underwriters Laboratory rating for how long the safe can withstand fire. A one-hour rating is probably sufficient for most house fires, but a two-hour rating is even better.

A fire-proof box does not provide much protection from theft, though, because it is easy for a burglar to carry away. If you need to keep items safe from thieves, you probably need a bigger and heavier safe.

Generally speaking, heavier safes are better because they are harder for a burglar to carry out of your house. But a determined burglar can move even the heaviest safe, given enough time. So it is important to have a safe that can be bolted to the floor.

Heavier safes also provide greater protection from a thief with a drill or a blowtorch. For a better understanding of how well a safe would hold up against forced entry, you can check the TL or TR rating. These tell how long it would take a burglar with a drill or other tool (the TL rating) or a blowtorch (the TR rating) to get into the safe. For example, a rating of TL-30 means it would take a thief with a tool about 30 minutes to open the safe.

The price of a home safe varies widely, from about $20 for the book-safe to put on your shelf, to thousands of dollars for a commercial-grade safe. You can work with a security professional to determine what safe is best for you – and how to install in your home.

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