The first bank safes weren’t particularly impressive. Before we learned which materials were best for protecting our valuables, we used safes made of wood and iron, which were easily smashed open by thieves. After that, we turned to safes made of solid iron, susceptible to standard explosions. Today, we use carefully machined pieces of steel, crafted with composites to protect against not only theft, but heat damage, too.
Today, if you choose the right home safe, you can defend your family’s belongings against fire, robbery, and theft. Though we frequently take the peace of mind that safes offer for granted, it’s worth understanding how each model is made, and which elements distinguish the difference between the most common and popular forms of home safety.
The Key Features of a Home Safe
Though various safes can come with additional parts, like storage solutions and organization trays, the two most important features of a home safe are the box and the lock. The box is the body of the safe, designed to contain your valuables and keep them secure. Most manufacturers build their boxes with sheets of solid steel, several centimeters thick.
Experts construct safe boxes with a combination of “mild steel” and hard plates. The “mild” steel materials are valuable because rigid materials can often crack under exposure to ongoing force. Mild steel skins protect the safe from shock force by allowing the material to warp, not break.
Another important element of a home safe is the lock. The lock is the “door” part of the safe, which you can open or close to access your valuables. Today, locks can be electronic or mechanical, and can protect against a range of burglary attempts. The idea is to ensure that the safe owner is the only person who can open the safe.
Understanding Fire Safes
There are many different types of safes available for those in search of home protection. For instance, gun safes protect firearms, and may even come with a level of heat resistance to ensure the interior isn’t damaged in a fire. Fire safes are one of the most popular types of safe, and they include an extra layer of protection not found in standard safes. Fire safes use a layer of non-conductive composite that isolates heat, keeping the temperature of the inside of the safe from skyrocketing.
Fire safes must pass an Underwriters Laboratory test which indicates they won’t easily burn or ignite. Usually, experts measure the efficiency of fireproof safes by time and temperature. For instance, to protect paper documents, a fire safe would need to be resistant to at least 350°F. A good safe may keep the interior below 350°F for two hours or more. Some fire safes will also be resistant to humidity.
Burglary Resistant Safes
Burglary resistant safes protect valuables against the threat of forced entry. Often, burglars will use various resources to break into home vaults, including everything from chemicals and explosives to power tools. Burglar safes resist many of these attacks with careful construction techniques.
Usually, experts classify burglar safes according to the type of tools they can withstand, and the amount of time a thief might need with those tools to penetrate the safe. Construction ratings define burglary safes by the type and thickness of materials used. For instance, common ratings include “B-rated” and “C-rated” safes.
Another way to rate a burglary resistant safe is by “performance.” Performance ranks work according to standards provided by the U.S. Underwriters Library. The standard called UL 687 outlines requirements that safes need to meet to get the UL rating.
Choosing a Home Safe
The right home safe for a homeowner will depend on the type of valuables they want to protect, and what they hope to defend those valuables against. In the case of fire and burglary safes, it is possible to buy a vault that can protect against both things at once. Modern models known as “composite” safes, or BF safes, come with a combination of both fire and burglar ratings.
Although safes that protect against fire and burglary might not be able to hold up against heat for as long as exclusive fire-protection safes, they can be a better option for those in search of all-round protection. Additionally, many of these safes come with moisture resistance too — which means that you’re defended in the case of a flood.
At Western Safe, we will find the right safe for you, and if we don’t have it in stock, we’ll order it. Get in touch with us today.