Think of a home safe and two things may immediately pop into your mind: A cleverly concealed wall safe (a la nearly every James Bond movie ever filmed), or a massive, heavy, impenetrable estate safe. But bigger — or more cleverly hidden — isn’t always better. Keeping the following tips in mind as you research and shop can make it much easier to find the right home safe:
Location and Accessibility
A good safe is like a seatbelt for your valuables: Great protection, but only if you use it.
There’s nothing wrong with cleverly concealing your home safe. But if you get too clever — by placing the safe in an out-of-the-way location, or just making it a trial to get in and out of — you might find yourself using it less and less, and eventually leaving your valuables unprotected.
Relocating a heavy safe can be an ordeal, so make things easy on yourself at the planning stage: Place your safe in an accessible location where it’ll actually get used. And if the thought of spinning a dial back and forth to get into your safe every day turns you off, consider upgrading to an electronic lock, or even a biometric lock, instead.
Putting a Safe Upstairs
As important as it is to place a safe where it’s convenient and easy to use, some flooring configurations — especially on upstairs levels — just can’t support the weight of a heavy estate safe with fire cladding. That doesn’t mean you should never put a safe upstairs, but do let us connect you with a qualified safe installer who can inspect your home’s structure and determine whether additional support is appropriate.
A few other things to keep in mind about your safe’s “location, location, location”:
- Will there be enough light for you to operate the locking mechanism?
- Can an onlooker see you operating the safe through a window, or from another room?
- Can the safe be anchored in place in its planned location?
Fire Protection vs. Security Protection
The majority of today’s “fire safes” are built of fireboard sandwiched between thin sheets of metal. These safes look good and can offer good fire protection, but they don’t offer adequate protection against burglary, even when “reinforced.”
If you’re concerned about fire but not theft, that’s no problem — but if you want both fire and burglary protection, you should steer clear of fireboard and head straight for cladded fire safes. A cladded safe has a shell of concrete amalgamate outside the safe’s actual steel core; the shell is then covered with a thin sheet of metal. The steel core (and the concrete amalgamate, to a certain degree) protect against burglary, and the concrete amalgamate and the outer steel shell protect against heat.
A determined burglar can break into even the strongest of safes — eventually. A well-built safe may deter the burglar entirely, or at least delay him (or her) long enough for the police or a private security firm to arrive.
Safes are tested and rated according to how quickly a burglar can gain access, but the very best-rated safes tend to be both heavy and expensive. If you live in a remote location, it’s worth investing in the best of the best. If you live in a relatively accessible location, you can balance practicality with security by learning the authorities’ response time in your area. Then purchase a safe that’s been tested and rated to withstand entry attempts for at least that long.