Introduction to Home Safes
Introduction to Home Safes

Having a safe in one's home or office is not quite as uncommon as one might think. Safes are around to give us that extra level of protection; be it for important documents, guns or jewelry. When choosing a safe it is important to decide exactly which items you are interested in keeping in the safe and why.

Consider What Your Home Safe Is Protecting

Determining which items you wish to keep in the safe will dictate the size of safe you will need. It is important to keep in mind that the size and thickness of the safe walls must be factored in, when planning how much shelf-space you will need for your new safe.

Reasons for keeping a safe can be safeguarding the items inside it from burglars, from the untrained hands of children (e.g. in the case of guns), or to guard against things like earthquakes or fires. By determining who or what you are safeguarding the items from will help you decide what kind of protection you will need. For instance, if you want to make sure that a drawer containing important documents is not accidentally opened and its contents misplaced or that an item of personal value is not accidentally tampered with, a simple locked file cabinet or display cabinet will do.

If, on the other hand, you are trying to protect the items in your safe from burglars,you will probably be looking for a safe with a stronger lock and/or an electronic code. Some digital locks are X-ray- and manipulation-proof, making the codes nearly impossible to crack. Other safes can be accessed only by swiping your credit card. You can even attach an electronic control device that regulates the times when a safe can be opened.

In another case scenario, you may want to make sure that certain items or documents will not be damaged in the event of a natural disaster, such as an earthquake or fire. If so, you should consider something more along the lines of a fire-resistant safe.

Testing Security Safes - How Safe Are They?

One way to be more confident with your purchase of a safe is to buy one which has been pre-approved by a legitimate safe tester, such as the Underwriters Laboratory (UL). The UL tests safes for their level of heat resistance, theft resistance and durability.

To test a safe for theft resistance, the UL subjects the safe as a whole and the lock in particular to picks and blow torches. The UL uses the TL15 and TL30 designations to indicate a safe that can withstand 15 and 30 minutes of drilling, respectively.

The UL also tests safes to see how secure they are in a fire. Testers heat safes in a furnace for half an hour or longer and then inspect the condition of the contents. Safes that pass this test can maintain a constant interior temperature at external temperatures of over 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Designated record safes can protect paper documents from 1700 degrees Fahrenheit heat for up to four hours.

You may also want to know how a safe will fare if it is dropped, either in the case of an earthquake or in a fire. In the case of a fire, a safe may fall through the floor, and if it is not a strong enough safe it may break open, and spill the contents you are seeking to protect. The UL indicates whether a safe can survive the impact of a 30 foot fall, which simulates a fall from three stories.