Although personal safety is the most significant fire-related issue for most people, many also place high importance on the protection of important documents and other valuable materials. Birth and death certificates, diplomas, valuable recordings, and even items with sentimental value such as photographs and children's report cards merit special protection. Fireproof safes address these needs.
Grading Fireproof Safes
Underwriters' Laboratories (UL) provides the accepted standards for grading the resistance of safes to fire. Grades define resistance according to the maximum temperature a safe allows in its interior. The lower the number, the higher the grade of safe. For example, temperatures in a safe graded UL 125 do not rise above 125 degrees Fahrenheit for some time. Safes intended to protect paper and other documents should have a grade of UL 350 as paper burns at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Media products such as tapes, digital video discs (DVDs), and compact discs (CDs) are more susceptible to heat than paper and require a grade of 125. Despite the durability of these safes, consumers should note that these safes are not actually "fireproof", but rather "fire resistant." Over time an uncontrolled fire overpowers even the sturdiest safe.
At a minimum, a safe should be able to withstand a 1,400 degree Fahrenheit fire for one hour. Higher grade safes such as UL125 may withstand a 2,000 degree Fahrenheit fire for four hours. Water damage represents another issue that may affect safes. During fires, sensors may activate sprinklers that flood rooms and water may damage many of these materials as well. You should make sure that your safe is also insulated against water.
Uses of Fireproof Safes
Consumers may choose from different varieties of fireproof safes depending on their specific needs. Some require these safes to protect materials found at their homes while others purchase them to protect materials at their workplaces. Still others choose a special type of safe designed for the delicate materials contained in media. An inexpensive safe may cost as little as fifty dollars, however large, high-grade safes may cost thousands of dollars.
Safes for homes are usually the smallest variety and many feature designs that allow them to be inconspicuous. Their compact sizes permit home occupants to store them in hidden places. Occupants may also choose from different colors if not hiding the safes. Business safes tend to be larger and often appear to be part of the office furniture. For example, safes may appear to be cabinets. Media safes feature special insulation and greater durability. When the amount of media materials requiring protection is minimal, some people use a type of "safe drawer" which may be inserted into a large safe.
These safes typically feature thick steel and special insulating materials. Vermiculite and perlite are two special materials commonly used. Their molecular composition contains a high amount of water that keeps materials inside cool. However consumers should note that over time this moisture evaporates and replacing safes may become necessary.
Fire represents a serious danger to valuable property and possessions in addition to people. Fire may destroy important documents, media materials, and even possessions with sentimental value. Many people buy fireproof safes to protect their valuables against this danger. Consumers may choose from different types of safes with different levels of sturdiness and different aesthetic characteristics. When choosing a safe note the size of the safe, how much you need to store, and the UL grade. A lower number indicates a higher level of fire resistance that keeps contents cool longer. However, the higher the grade of safe, the higher its price as well, so you should balance your need to protect your valuables against the cost of the safe.