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What You Need to Know Before You Invest in a Safe

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What You Need to Know Before You Invest in a Safe

It’s startling to know that every year there are some 2.5 million burglaries a year. Even worse, about 66% of those burglaries are home invasions. The average loss from a burglary is over $2,400. In fact, most property owners say their number one concern for their property involves break-ins or home invasions.

Your home is supposed to be your safe place, and you want and expect that the things most valuable are protected inside your home. Yet, with statistics like these, it might be time to consider if you should invest in a safe for your most valuable items inside your home.

Valuables come in a wide range from money and jewelry to guns and collectibles. You might also need a safe to protect important paperwork.

If you’re considering buying a safe, the first thing you should know is that not all safes are created equal. Read on to learn everything you need to know about buying a safe before you make this investment.

Do I Need a Safe for My Home?

The short is yes, and you do need a safe. What kind of safe you have may depend on your particular needs. Considering buying a safe, your first consideration should be what you want and need to store in it.

Of course, a safe will act to protect your valuables. A safe can also protect access to dangerous items by those who shouldn’t have access; consider a gun safe, for example.

You might be thinking, well, I don’t have guns in my home, and I don’t have piles of cash or jewels sitting around. Do I really need a safe? Again, the answer is yes. Remember, you also want to protect your valuables from other things beyond theft. You want fire protection too.

Protecting important paperwork like passports, birth certificates, investments, and estate paperwork should require a safe too.

Are All Safes Created Equal?

One safe is certainly not the same as another. It’s the reason there are so many considerations when making the purchase of a safe for your home. Often the adage, you get what you pay for applies here.

The materials that make up a safe are a key factor. A thin metal case will not hold up the same way a heavy gauge steel safe would. Generally speaking, consider what construction, the thickness of metal, and type of locking mechanism the safe has as you consider its worthiness.

These factors are especially true for gun safes. You don’t want to buy a gun case that could easily be breached using simple tools like a screwdriver and hammer. Again, consider the heaviness of the metal that makes up the case and then consider its fire protection properties. More on gun safes later on.

As you consider a safe purchase, consider how the safes are engineered, which can impact their security.

Best Safe Options

There are so many factors to consider when buying a safe. It’s difficult to name one safe over another as being better without considering all the factors. Good questions to ask yourself might include:

  • What are you using the safe for?
  • Where do you plan to put the safe?
  • Do you have the valuables in the safe properly insured already?
  • What type of lock will work best for you? (more on this later)
  • Is it fire and water safe?
  • How much space do you need inside the safe?

Once you consider your answer to these questions, it will help you to narrow down the best safe options for your personal needs. Some well known and regarded brands for safes include:

  • Agresti
  • Amsec
  • Brown Sae
  • Chubbsafes
  • First Security Safe Co.
  • Gardex
  • Hollon
  • Mesa Safes
  • SentrySafe

The SentrySafe brand seems highly regarded and has affordable options for a home safe that are both fire and water-resistant (more on this later) and come in a variety of sizes.

Many safes also come with industry-approved security ratings. You should compare those ratings too before making a selection.

Cost for a Home Safe

Like any big purchase, one of the first considerations should be your budget. Once you consider the price ranges for an average safe and consider your needs closely, then start by setting a budget for yourself.

You can get a home safe for a reasonable amount of money. Having said that, once you start to consider upgrades, the cost can go up.

As you venture into higher-quality steel for your safe (this is important), the cost will increase. Other things that might increase the cost of your shade include extra locks or additional bolting. Larger-sized safes can also have the upgrade option of coming with interior shelving, causing a price increase. Consider your needs and whether this is important to you.

One other factor to consider when thinking about price is the warranty and guarantee options that might come with a safe. Some safe makers will offer warranty options that might even cover the cost of lost items if there is something stolen from the safe.

Cheap Safe vs Pricier Safe

It is possible to purchase a small fire-resistant safe to secure important papers at a reasonable price, often under $100. A lower price is a positive. Yet, this type of safe, for example, really just provides your important papers a fire-resistant home. The safe is mobile, not making it that secure from theft.

Deciding on how much to spend is completely dependent on how your needs and what you hope to secure, and why. As you consider what to spend, go back to the questions in the Best Safe Options section. Answers to those will help you identify your real needs. Then you can establish how much you need to spend to get what you need.

Select a safe and consider its cost based on the value of the contents going into it. The more value your contents have, the more you should spend on a safe.

Reasons for a Home Safe

A home safe comes in a variety of types depending on what you hope to secure. Let’s take a closer look at some safe types based on what is going inside the safe.

Money

Some people like to keep cash in their homes. If you’re storing large amounts of cash in your home, you need it to be secure in a few ways.

You want to ensure you have a safe that is fire resistant. In the event of a fire, cash could be burned up. You also want a safe that isn’t easily mobile. There are a variety of small safes that come fire-resistant, yet you can grab them by the handle and go with them.

This won’t necessarily make your money safe from theft.

If you’re storing large amounts of cash, consider the value of the cash. You want to spend accordingly on a safe to protect the value of the money you’re storing.

Guns

Guns are unique in that there’s more than one reason to secure them. You want to protect them from theft, but you also want to protect someone who is inexperienced and shouldn’t be handling guns access to them. You first need to consider the type of guns, handguns, or shotguns you need to secure.

A gun cabinet is not a secure gun safe. When you think about a gun safe, consider a few things. First, the door of the gun safe is important. You want a door that is  ½” or thicker steel.

You also want a gun safe that can have greater than a one-hour fire resistance. Rarely will guns survive a fire without longer than an hour of fire resistance.

You also want to look at security ratings. You want your gun safe to have Underwriter Laboratory burglar ratings such as RSC (Residential Security Container), U.L. TL-15 (Tool Resistant), and U.L. TL-30.

The best gun safes will have clearly identified safety ratings. You’ll also want to consider the space you need to secure ammunition too.

Valuable Papers

There are a variety of important documents you want to keep secured in a safe too. These are much like money. You want a safe that is fire resistant to protect the information. Some of these documents will include:

  • Birth certificates
  • Social Security cards
  • Will and living trust paperwork
  • Passports
  • Car titles
  • Home deeds
  • Insurance policies
  • Tax returns

Like storing cash in a safe, you want to consider the fire ratings on the safe for these documents.

Other Reasons to Have a Safe

You might be thinking, do I really need a home safe? What else should you consider keeping secure in a safe?

Even if you don’t keep large amounts of cash, you might want emergency cash available in a safe. Jewelry and collectibles like coin or stamp collections should be secured in a safe. Think of it like this, if you have it protected on your homeowner’s policy, then you also want to keep it locked up.

You might also lock spare vehicle keys instead of having them laid out and open to theft. CDs or external hard drives with important information or images should also be secured in a safe.

Considerations When Choosing Safe

As you look at buying a safe for your home, now that you’ve considered your needs, there are features of the safe you might also want to consider. These considerations have to do with how the safe is engineered, its parts, and its features for securing your valuables.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the things to consider when buying a safe.

Safe Security Ratings and Quality

There are industry standards and ratings in place for safes. The Underwriters Laboratory Inc. is an independent product safety testing company. And while there are other organizations that do safety ratings, the most widely accepted in the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) ratings, for insurance and industry standards.

When purchasing a safe, any safe that has been tested and rated by UL will have their seal and guidelines listed on it. Some of their ratings include:

  • TL – Tool Resistant
  • TR – Torch Resistant
  • X6 – Indicates that there is protection on all six sides of the container
  • 15,30, or 60 – indicates the amount of time the container can withstand an attack

A residential security container or RSC can be secure on all six sides of the object for up to five minutes of an attack.

Watch for UL ratings when you consider which safe to buy.

Fire Rating

In addition to the rating for security, a safe should have come with a fire rating. Depending on your situation will depend on how important fire protection is in a safe. If you live in a high fire risk area or you are storing important paper documents in the safe, you obviously want a safe with a high fire rating.

The UL also rates safes with fire ratings. Some of these ratings include:

  • 1/2 Hour – UL class E Safe
  • 1 Hour – UL class D Safe
  • 1 Hour Plus – UL class C Safe
  • 2 Hour – UL class B Safe
  • 4 Hour – UL class A Safe

When considering fire rating, look at two things. What temperature can the safe remain secure? How long can the safe remain secure when faced with heat and fire?

Burglar Rating

Another consideration is how well a safe can stand up to a burglary. Nobody can anticipate a robbery. But there are factors that make some homes more at risk than others. Consider these questions as you assess your risk for burglary:

  • Where do you live?
  • Is the crime level high in your neighborhood?
  • Has your home ever had a burglary take place?
  • Do you have a home alarm system that both works and you use?

If you have valuables and answer yes to several of those questions, you want to consider how secure the safe would be from a robbery. Consider how long it would take a burglar to open a safe.

Construction of the safe and the type of steel used helped to determine how well it would stand up to attack by a burglar. Safes will often come with a performance rating. This explains how long it would take for the safe to be breached if under attack.

Some safes have upgrade features that would also set off an alarm if the safe was broken into.

Size

Once you know what you plan to store in a safe, you can consider the size you need. Safes are measured based on their interior storage space. The manufacturer will measure height width and depth to give you storage size in cubic feet.

While you can get a smaller-sized safe for a reasonable price, plan ahead. It might make more sense to purchase a safe that’s slightly larger instead of needing to purchase an additional safe when you need more room.

Types of Locks

A major consideration for a safe is what type of lock comes with the safe. You want to consider ease to open the safe and what will work best for you. There are several types of locks that safes come with to consider.

A dial or combination lock is very secure and takes a long while to break if someone is trying to get into it. They come with literally millions of combination options. It does require precision to open, and you need to keep track of the combination you enter on the safe.

Another lock option is a digital number keypad. This makes for easier entry to the safe because you simply punch in the number on the keypad. They’re programmable and will automatically lock if there are too many failed attempts.

Yet, the digital number keypad locks can be a little pricier than a combination lock. They also require batteries and have a slight potential for mechanical failure.

A more technologically advanced lock is a biometric lock. This would open using either fingerprint or voice recognition or retinal scans. These are obviously fast and highly secure. They can work with your smartphone too. With advanced technology comes a higher price.

On the other end of the spectrum is the lock opened with a key. This is the simplest option and often less expensive. However, you have to keep track of the key, and they tend to be less secure than some other options.

Installation Options and Locations

Some safe purchases simply require you to pick up the safe and come home with it. If the safe is small and portable, it’s easy to bring into your home.

If you’re purchasing a larger safe, you might want to consider professional installation. This might be necessary if you have a wall safe or a built-in unit. If you buy a safe with alarm features, you might also consider professional installation.

Often opting for professional installation also comes with a warranty and additional security benefits.

Deciding where to put your safe is also a key decision. You obviously want it out of sight.  Many will opt for a master bedroom closet when, in fact, that might be one of the first places a burglar will look.

When deciding where to place your safe, consider these things:

  • Place the safe in a location that’s easy to reach and will encourage you to use it regularly
  • Make sure there’s good light while using it
  • Consider bolting the safe to the floor, which makes a concrete floor a good choice

Consider an enclosed stairway, a guest bedroom closet, or even a utility room as options for your safe. Burglars are less likely to look there than in a master bedroom.

Purchasing a safe from a security expert will help you address not only the best safe to buy but also the best place to put it.

Wall Safe Vs Floor Safe

There are limitations to both wall safes and floor safes. You want to consider which will work best for you based on what you hope to secure.

A floor safe can be very secure from burglary. It allows you to bolt the safe right into the floor. Floor safes are not always the most fire secure options, though.

Wall safes have both burglary and fire resistance limitations. They are typically made from thinner metal, making them less secure. They do work well for securing small items for a temporary period of time. For example, you might want to secure prescription drugs to keep them out of reach in a wall safe.

Once you work on the other considerations for the best safe for you, the question of in the wall or on the floor may already be addressed by the other safe features.

Home Safe Dos and Don’ts

As a homeowner, there are few things to remember once you have a home safe. The most obvious is not having your safe out in plain sight. Also, remember always to keep your safe securely locked up. Don’t walk away and leave the safe open.

Don’t make life easier for a potential thief by having any tools near your safe. If you have a gun safe, make sure you have a rider on your homeowner’s insurance to cover it.

Finally, if your safe is located in a basement where it might be damp, keep a dehumidifier nearby to remove moisture. You don’t want added moisture to impact the security of your safe.

Considering Insurance for Your Home Safe and Its Contents

It’s good you’re considering getting a safe if you have valuables. If you invest in a safe, it also becomes a valuable possession. Be sure to meet and talk with your insurance agent about these items.

You want to make sure you have adequate coverage on your homeowner’s policy to protect not just your home’s value but these items too.

Answering Your Questions About Getting a Safe

The most important questions have been addressed.

  • What will you store in your safe?
  • How much space do you need?
  • What ratings to consider for your safe?
  • Where should you put your safe?

You might be wondering what happens if you forget the combination to your safe? Of course, this will vary depending on the type of lock you select. Start by contacting the dealer who sold you the safe. In most cases, you’ll need to contact a licensed locksmith, who will likely need to contact the manufacturer of your safe.

Invest In a Safe for Your Home

Deciding to invest in a safe might take some research and knowledge gathering for you. But once you understand what there is to know about safes, you can be sure your valuables are protected.

Another important way to protect yourself and your home is through quality, comprehensive insurance coverage. If you want to be sure you have all the insurance coverage you need for your home and valuables, we can help. Contact us today to set up an appointment to review your insurance needs.

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