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The right safe protects your valuables – and your peace of mind – whether you’re at home or away. Safes offer a variety of options, and it’s important to understand the features of each safe so you can determine which is right for you. There are two main types of home safes: one that protects against fire and one that protects against theft. Some safes are also watertight. Although many safes protect against fire, theft and water, not all do – so be sure to look closely at the manufacturer’s description.

Fire safes

Fire safes are heavily insulated to protect the contents from heat and smoke. They are often small and portable, and many open with a key or mechanical combination lock.

Most fire safes are rated by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or Intertek (ETK) to determine what type of material they’ll protect and how long they’ll protect it.1 This information is usually either on the packaging or the safe and can help guide your buying choice. A UL Class 350 1-hour fire rating means that the internal temperature of the safe will not exceed 350 degrees for at least one hour when exposed to external temperatures over 1,700 degrees.

  • If you are storing paper documents, the safe interior should not exceed 350 degrees
  • Tape recordings and film should not exceed 150 degrees
  • DVDs and computer drives should stay below 125 degrees

Consider these additional items for firesafe storage2:

  • Social Security cards
  • Passports and original birth certificates
  • Insurance policies and agent contact information
  • Power of attorney documents and wills
  • Bank vault deposit box keys
  • Small personal treasures

Burglary safes

Burglary safes are designed to protect your most cherished valuables against forced entry. An empty 1.3 cubic-foot safe weighs about 100 pounds and can be bolted to the floor or wall1, making it a less attractive target than cameras, small electronics and other more portable items.

Burglary safes are classified by the types of tools they are designed to resist and the amount of time these tools need to penetrate a safe. Generally, the higher the rating, the heavier and thicker the safe’s walls and door. Ratings are shown by the letters TL followed by numerals. The TL refers to “tool” and the numerals represent the amount of time a safe can resist break-in attempts. For example, a TL-30 rating indicates the safe can resist attack for up to 30 minutes.

High-quality dial and electronic locks are UL-rated, and the emergence of biometrics has enabled manufacturers to make safes even more secure.

Consult with your insurance agent to see what discounts you could receive for choosing a certain type of safe.

Specialized safes

High-security jewelry safes combine luxurious design and fabrication with superior engineering to keep jewelry organized and protected. These safes offer UL-rated burglary and fire protection along with customization such as high-gloss rare wood cases, premium fabric lining, LED interior lighting, biometric locks, customized storage options and other high-end features to enhance convenience and safety.

Gun owners should always keep weapons and ammunition properly stored. Although many people use a burglary safe to hold handguns, larger rifles require taller gun safes with racks to hold weapons securely. Many gun safes are also fire-resistant.

Thinking bigger

To get big protection, a custom walk-in vault room can be retrofitted into an existing space or can be installed during new construction. Vaults have reinforced steel walls designed to withstand tornado, fire, lightning or forced entry and offer features such as bullet-resistant doors and multiple locking options. This gives you quick and easy protection from whatever threat you’re facing.3

Vaults can be customized with full lighting and electrical options, including emergency lighting in case the power goes out.4 You can add proper ventilation and equip your safe with emergency food and water kits in case a disaster strikes and you need to shelter in place.

Learn more about keeping yourself protected by contacting your Nationwide Private Client agent today.