Over the past two decades, it has become increasingly popular for consumers to purchase home security safes to store valuables and private documentation. Making a smart choice on the type of safe or lockable box can save valuable time and / or money in the event of a home break-in or fire. There are a variety of safe-types available on the open market today depending on one’s budget, value of material to be safe-guarded, and whether or not the purchaser needs to buy a fireproof container.
Home Security Facts
Before making a decision regarding the type of safe to purchase for the home or business, it’s important to take a look at current home security facts and trends:
#1 – If your home or apartment is located on a corner lot, the odds of it being burglarized or robbed are significantly higher.
#3 – More than 35% of reported assaults occur during home break-ins or invasions.
#4 – If your home or apartment has previously been broken into, the probability of it being broken into again is high. Most thieves revisit old targets after a given timeframe to steal the same materials or items after they have been replaced.
#5 – More than 60% of all reported burglaries in the United States are residential.
#6 – More than half of all burglaries reported in the U.S. occurred during daylight hours.
#7 – 67% of all burglaries involved forcible entry into the home or residence.
#8 – The value of stolen property during home break-ins in the United States is per year is more than four billion dollars.
Home Security Fire Facts
Burglaries are not the only concern for consumers when taking a look at purchasing a safe for storing valuables or personal paperwork. Catastrophic loss due to fire is another significant concern to take into account before making the investment into a security container. Relevant home security fire facts include:
#1 – Fire departments in the United States respond to a reported fire every 15 seconds.
#2 – More than 60 percent of structural fires set by arsonists involved residential property. Of these fires, almost half involved minor children (under the age of 18 in the United States).
#3 – There is more than $250 in lost property due to fire in the United States per second.
#4 – More than 80% of fire deaths in the United States occur in the home.
#5 – It’s estimated that consumers will have less than four minutes on average to escape a fire in the home.
#6 – The average home fire burns at more than 1000 degrees Farenheight.
History of Home Security Safes
The history of home security safes dates to 1835 when Englishmen Charles and Jeremiah Chubb of Wolverhampton, England obtained a patent for a burglar-resistant safe. The brothers had been in the business of producing locks since 1818 before submitting the safe patent. The company founded by the brothers, Chubb Locks, remained in business until sold to Assa Abloy in 2000.
One of the first patents granted for safes that were designed to help preserve paperwork during fires was on November 2nd, 1886 to American Henry Brown. Brown’s patent included a fire retardant container made from forged metal. The box used a lock and key and included slots for the separation of papers.
Home Safe Security Specifications
There are a number of common specifications for home security safes in use today. These include:
Fire-resistance, burglar-resistance, environmental-resistance (sometimes referred to as water-resistance), the type of lock used on the safe, location, and more recently “smart safes.”
Fire-resistant safes are made to protect the contents of the safe or box from exposure to fire or high temperatures. Typical ratings for this type of safe is the time the safe can withstand exposure to extreme temperatures without exceeding a pre-defined internal temperature (typically 177 °C or 350 °F). Consumer models for this type of safe normally range from 30 minute to four hour durations.
There are more specialized fire-resistant safes on the market today which are designed to protect documents or data. Document safes will be designed to maintain an internal temperature of no more than 177 °C or 350 °F in an external environment that is seeing heat that exceeds 1,000 °C or 1,830 °F. Safes that are designed to store data will preserve internal temperatures in the box or safe to no more than 55 °C or 131 °F when exposed to heat in excess of 1,000 °C or 1,830 °F. In the United States, testing of safes to these criteria is conducted by Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
Underwriters Laboratories Certification of Safes
The UL (Underwriters Laboratories) testing standards for safes are some of the more rigorous in the world. Other certification bodies that use slightly different standards and classifications in the world include CSTB (France), J.I.S. (Japan), and B.T.U./V.D.M.A. (Germany).
Class 125 Safe
A Class 125 safe is able to sustain internal temperatures of less than 52 °C or 125 °F and 80% humidity. This class of safe was first introduced when floppy disks started to be used throughout industry. Official UL tests of the safe include non-paper material. Even though floppy disks are largely not used today, the ratings of the Class 125 safe are sufficient to protect newer computer media such as CDs or DVDs. At the time of this writing; however, UL has not conducted their tests with these media. Additional benefits of Class 125 safes include being waterproof (also stated on the label of the safe). The label will also use class ratings in hours that range from 30 minutes to four hours of duration of exposure to extreme heat.
Class 150 Safe
A Class 150 safe is able to sustain internal temperatures of less than 66 °C or 150 °F and 85% humidity. The class was first introduced when magnetic reel and computer data tapes started to see significant use in industry. Underwriter Laboratories test the Class 150 with both paper and non-paper items. It is considered sufficient to store optical media such as DVDs and CDs. There are also cases that meet Class 125 criteria that can be placed inside of a Class 150 safe. Similar to other UL rated safes, the Class 150 will include an hour rating on the door label ranging from 30 minutes to four hours.
Class 350 Safe
The Class 350 safe is able to keep internal temperatures less than 177 °C or 350 °F and below 85% humidity. This class safe is tested using the most basic UL test and is focused on the storage of paper. The temperature that paper will ignite is 232 °C or 450 °F. The Class 350 is not sufficient for the storage of portable media; however, there are Class 125 containers that can be purchased which will fit inside of a Class 350 model. Ratings for exposure to fire come in increments ranging from 30 minutes to four hours.
Class TL-15 Safe
A Class TL-15 safe is designed to offer a limited amount of protection against break-in. It can resist hand tools, mechanical or electric drills, grinders, or other devices that apply pressure for 15 minutes.
Class TL-30 Safe
A Class TL-30 safe is able to over increased protection against break-in when compared to the TL-15. It can resist similar abuse as the TL-15 for up to 30 minutes to include protection against cutting wheels and power saws.
Class TL-40 Safe
The Class TL-40 safe is a combination lock safe that offers protection against break-in for up to 40 minutes. The rated protection includes tampering from devices that can apply pressure, hand tools, picking tools, electrical or mechanical tools, power saws, and cutting wheels.
A Class TRTL-30 safe is a combination locked safe that provides high protection against break-in. The Class TRTL-30 is rated to resist break-ins for up to 30 minutes from oxy-fuel welding and cutting torches, carbide drills, picking tools, and devices which apply pressure.
The Class TRTL-60 similarly designed as the Class TRTL-30 except this class is rated for up to 60 minutes of attempted break-ins.
The Class TXTL-60 meets all UL requirements for the class TRTL-60. Additionally, it is rated to be able to withstand exposure to high explosives such as nitroglycerin.
This class meets all the requirements for Class TRTL-60 and, in addition, can withstand high explosives
How to Secure Your Safe at Home
Before making the final decision to purchase a home security safe, consumers should put some thought into how the safe will be secured in the home. Although most safes are designed to be difficult to open by those who don’t own or have access to them, most can eventually be opened given enough time and effort. A significant risk with any safe is that home burglars or thieves will simply take the entire safe! Although it might take them time to open the container, the end-result to the consumer is actually worse; for now both the safe and the valuables contained inside of it are gone! Once you have made the decision on what type of safe is suitable for the type of material or valuables being protected, the following are some prudent steps to take for securing a home security safe.
Step 1 – Take time to plan out the best location for a safe in a home or apartment. The easiest location to mount a safe is on a concrete floor; however, any horizontal surface will typically suffice.
Step 2 – If the container you are installing is large, seek out help before moving it to the potential installation location. Movement of larger containers can result in injury if done alone.
Step 3 – Make sure the safe actually has holes in the bottom of it to be mounted before you take it home. Many of the cheaper or less-expensive safes on the market do not have this option.
Step 4 – Prior to drilling into floors or other areas in a home, ensure you understand what is located beneath the floor. Many a home owner has punctured water or sewage pipes when drilling in the floor without doing proper research on the location of piping.
Step 5 – If the safe came with instructions, don’t do the “Man-thing”—read them! If a safe is not installed properly (i.e. not in accordance with the instructions), the warranty can be voided or a thief will potentially be able to compromise the security of the container. If you read through the instructions and do not understand them, most manufacturers are open to questions via customer service.
Step 6 – If the safe did not come with the appropriate bolts and anchors, verify the hardware requirements before purchasing from your local hardware store.
Step 7 – Move the safe to the desired location you are going to permanently install the container.
Step 8 – Open the safe door and using a market to mark the mounting hole locations onto the floor.
Step 9 – Move the safe after you have marked the holes for drilling. If the safe is large, ensure you seek assistance to move the container.
Step 10 – Select a drill bit size that matches the required bolt size to mount the safe. If you are unsure, ask for assistance at the store where you purchased the bolts. If installing the safe onto a concrete base, you will want to use a drill bit for concrete vice wood.
Step 11 – After the holes have been drilled in the horizontal surface, sweep up the dust from the floor and holes.
Step 12 – If required by the safe instructions, insert anchors into the mounting holes.
Step 13 – Move the safe into place over the mounting holes.
Step 14 – Secure the safe using the mounting instructions for the types of anchors being used for the container.
Step 15 – Set the safe combination in accordance with the instructions that came with the container.
Step 16 – Verify the installation of the safe annually to ensure none of the mounting brackets have come loose or rust has not started to develop. If rust has started to set in, consider replacement of the mounting bracket hardware before the safe has become a permanent fixture of your home.