As you accumulate important papers, you need to keep them in a safe place, which means something sturdier than a shoebox. Papers you should keep in a home safe include birth, marriage and death certificates; wills; passports; Social Security cards; and settlement agreements. Some people also keep cash and jewelry in home safes.
The size of the home safe you need depends on what you want to store in it. If the home safe is for paperwork, you can probably do with a smaller, lightweight fire file. If you will keep cash or jewelry in the safe and are concerned about burglaries, you would want a heavy safe made of steel and preferably one that bolts into the floor.
Not all safes guard against fire or water damage. Home safes that do will say so in the product description. Look for how long the safe protects against fire and water damage. Some safes that guard against fires protect the contents up to 30 minutes. Some protect for an hour, and some keep your belongings safe for up to two hours. People who live in dry areas of the country that are prone to wildfires might opt for the two-hour protection. If you are concerned only about house fires, one-hour protection should be sufficient, said Sondra McFarlane of SentrySafe in an MSNBC article. Safes that protect against water damage also indicate how long they protect contents of a safe that is exposed to water. Burglar-resistant safes are rated for how long they can withstand various types of attack from crowbars, drills and torches. The ratings go from 15 minutes to one hour.
The type of lock to get is just a matter of personal preference. Home safes come with electronic push button locks or with dial combinations. You typically set your own code with the electronic lock, and you get a set code with the dial combination. Both are equally good, said Jim Riccardi of Gardall Safe Corp.
A wall safe that you conceal, usually behind a picture, is another option. Other hiding places could be in the laundry room behind a clothing rack or behind books on a bookshelf. Look for the same sort of fire protection in a wall safe that you would in a freestanding safe. Place the safe between studs in the wall to make it more difficult for burglars to steal, recommends Michael’s Keys Locksmith. Some wall safes are also rated for how long they can withstand being attacked by burglars with tools the same way the freestanding safes are.
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