A safe is the last line of defence for your cash on hand and essen­tial papers in a home and the office. Mak­ing sure you’ve invest­ed in the right one can make the dif­fer­ence between keep­ing your valu­ables secure and los­ing pre­cious doc­u­ments and per­son­al trea­sures.

Pay atten­tion to fire pro­tec­tion, not just crime pre­ven­tion

Peo­ple under­es­ti­mate the risk of fire. Busi­ness own­ers are right­ly scared of bur­glar­ies; after all, about 200,000 go down in the coun­try year­ly. But fire is not far behind, at about 100,000 sep­a­rate inci­dents per year, many of which cause prop­er­ty dam­age.

When buy­ing a safe, check the fire safe­ty rat­ing. This will usu­al­ly be mea­sured in the num­ber of hours the safe can be exposed to a typ­i­cal fire with­out being com­pro­mised.

These rat­ings are not 100% accu­rate, as they are based on a “typ­i­cal” heat much low­er than many fires. If an entire room goes up in a flashover, it’s unlike­ly that a safe is going to last its full rat­ing.

As a good rule of thumb, a fire rat­ing of less than 1 hour is func­tion­al­ly use­less. Try to get with 1–2 hours of safe­ty to ensure your valu­ables remain pro­tect­ed. If you live in a rur­al area or an under­served neigh­bour­hood, go for over 2.

Check the cash rat­ing

A cash rat­ing is entire­ly sep­a­rate from the fire rat­ing. Some safes have excel­lent cash rat­ings but ter­ri­ble fire rat­ings, and vice ver­sa. You need to con­sid­er the two val­ues sep­a­rate­ly.

A cash rat­ing is less sci­en­tif­ic than the fire rat­ing. It is the max­i­mum insur­able amount of cash that can go in the safe, as deter­mined by expert exam­i­na­tion of the hinges’ strength, the lock­’s com­plex­i­ty, and the met­al cas­ing’s resis­tance.

Just because a safe is rat­ed for a giv­en amount of cash does not mean you need to be lim­it­ed by that amount. Sup­pose your busi­ness is locat­ed in a safe neigh­bour­hood. In that case, you may even be able to con­vince your insur­ance com­pa­ny to cov­er a high­er amount of on-premis­es cash than your safe man­u­fac­tur­er sug­gests.

Addi­tion­al­ly, you can roll the dice and keep non-insur­ance floats on hand, eat­ing the loss­es if you do suf­fer a bur­glary.

Still, keep­ing your approx­i­mate cash float in mind when shop­ping for safes is good. You do not want to pay too much, but you also do not want to have a large float that insur­ance will not cov­er.

Always choose the com­bi­na­tion lock

In the movies, safe­crack­ers often fig­ure out the com­bi­na­tion by hear­ing when the wheels lock-in. In real­i­ty, with mod­ern safes, this rarely hap­pens. Com­bi­na­tion locks are incred­i­bly safe and are much more con­ve­nient. Because it’s eas­i­er to keep track of a set of num­bers than a phys­i­cal key, buy­ing a com­bi­na­tion safe now could save you a lot of has­sle lat­er.

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Allan Baum
Security Industry veteran with over 30+ years in the industry. Founded family owned and operated Protection Plus in 1994 with his wife and has overseen its growth since. In addition to working with his wife and son, Allan has assigned the role of Chief Canine Officer to his trusted dog Waub, who joins him at the office every day.