Keeping your valuable and irreplaceable possessions safe is a serious proposition.
Let's take a look at what makes these products different and how to choose a home safe for your valuables. We'll also tackle the details you might not have considered and issues you could encounter. By the time we're done, you'll be prepared to find just the right product to protect your stuff.
What You Will Need to Follow This Tutorial
- A list of valuables -- We'll help you come up with this a bit later. But knowing everything you want to keep inside will help you determine what size you'll need.
- A layout of your home -- Where you keep it could be as important as what you keep inside it. You can get some pointers on this step in the tutorial below.
- A budget -- One thing you'll notice as you learn how to choose a home safe is the price range. A high price tag often reflects a premium product. But you don't have to spend a fortune on a safe to keep your fortune safe.
How to Choose a Home Safe for Your Needs
1. Choose Your Protection Level
As you might imagine, this is the first and arguably most important part. You want to know that what is inside your safe is impervious to threats. Of course, you'll have to define what you think the biggest threat is. Obviously, the best home safes are going to promise you security in almost any circumstance. And some of them really do deliver. But there are two main issues you will probably want your home safe to address.
Protect against natural disasters
First of all, many consumers are looking for fire resistance. But not all protection is the same level. And experts say you have about a 25 percent lifetime chance of experiencing a household fire. So you will have to determine for yourself how strongly you want to protect against this possibility.
Almost any home safe is going to provide some fire protection. But depending on what you have inside, you might want significantly more than the base level. There are some sensitive items commonly left in home safes that are sensitive to heat. Typically, if you have analog or digital recordings, computer disks and the like, you want increased protection. You can find certain safes that allow you to keep the interior to 125 degrees or lower.
Safe manufactures also often include time considerations to the fire protection of their products. You would typically be fine with limiting it to the standard half hour. But if you want to go further, you can pay a premium to protect it for even longer than an hour. That might be the extra step you need to keep everything safe no matter what. In reality, most residential fires do not impact the same area for that long. While you're considering fire, don't forget another big threat: water. You can also get safes that will keep out moisture even in a serious residential flood.
Protect against burglars
Then there's the issue of a human threat. What if someone breaks in and goes for your safe? In addition to finding the right spot for it, you'll need to prepare for the worst. And the best home safes are trying to stay ahead of even the worst home burglar. Safes are rated based on how long they can hold fast against an attempt to open them. The system ranks against attacks by torches, common tools and explosive devices. And you can find plenty of great safes that will hold up for 15 minutes or more. Plus, the simple fact that they are heavy (if not bolted to the floor) makes them a deterrence. If burglars can't get in it or readily pick it up, they're likely to leave it behind.
2. Choose Where to Place It
Here's where a layout of your home will come into play. There are lots of places you can store your valuables. But learning how to choose a home safe also means figuring out the most logical spot. You might first think about your master bedroom. After all, this is likely where most of your personal stuff is anyway. But it could also be the first stop of a burglar. And even if you have a burglar resistant safe, ideally you'd prefer a bad actor never find it in the first place.
You know your own floor plan, so go for a place familiar and accessible to you. But to the extent possible, look at it from the perspective of making it hard to accidentally find. Then you need to consider the possibility of damage from other sources. Even if a basement might stand up to fire more than the rest of the house, it might not be best. Has your lower level flooded in the past? Keep that in mind to ensure you have the lowest risk of any disaster -- natural or otherwise.
3. Choose How Much to Spend
Depending on how sensitive your situation is to possible threats, you might want to spend more. This will certainly buy you more peace of mind. But if you're just starting out or you only need a small safe, you can get an inexpensive quality product. There are products technically called fire chests that could be sufficient for your needs. They're small and don't have the elevated security measures of the best safes. But you can get one for as little as $25.
From there, you'll move up to small safes that typical start in the $200 range. And then you get in the realm of the larger and more complex models. Some have features inside to help keep your valuables organized. And this is also where you can add additional fire, water or burglar resistance. Shopping online doesn't give you access to the safe itself. You might find seeing and touching it important as you learn how to choose a home safe. But if you trust reviews or personal recommendations, Amazon and other retailers abound with options. If you don't have a free or set rate shipping cost, however, remember that these are often heavy beasts.
4. Choose What to Put Inside
At the end of the day, this is what it's all about. The only reason to figure out how to choose a home safe is to protect valuable material. And for every buyer, that could be somewhat different. Maybe you have jewelry, collectibles, cash, or sentimental items. Whatever it is, you have deemed it valuable enough to protect from even the harshest conditions. Choose with care and keep in mind that you'll be dealing with limited space -- even in large safes.
And don't forget the documents. Experts recommend keeping some paperwork forever. So a home safe can be the perfect place to store them. This includes birth certificates, estate plans and death certificates. You might also want to add your life insurance policies, stock certificates and bonds while they're active. And if you want to add tax files to the mix, keep seven years or more in total. There might be other documents you feel are worth including. Marriage certificates, college transcripts or even a child's grade school drawings could make the cut. But that's part of why learning how to choose a home safe is such an individualized pursuit. Only you and your family know what is most valuable. And the right safe can help you make sure it survives even the worst case scenario.
As you figure out how to choose a home safe, you'll determine what you find most valuable.
We hope our guide has helped make it easier to figure out which type, style and size is best for you. If so, share this article with the homeowners you care about. And leave us a comment below if you have any final thoughts or questions.
Related Article: Not Just Valuables: All the Reasons You Need a Home Safe Right Now