How to Choose the Right Safe

A safe is the last line of defense for your cash on hand and important papers, both in a home and in 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 every single year. 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 that 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 a neighbourhood that is underserved, go for over 2.

Check the cash rating

A cash rating is entirely separate from the fire rating. Some safes have amazing 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 the strength of the hinges, complexity of the lock, and resistance of the metal casing.

Just because a safe is rated for a given amount of cash does not mean you need to be limited by that amount. If your business is located in a safe neighbourhood, 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 just keep non-insurance floats on hand, eating the losses if you do suffer a burglary.

Still, it is good to keep your approximate cash float in mind when shopping for safes. 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 almost never happens. Combination locks are extremely safe and are much more convenient. Because it’s a lot 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 on.

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