There is no doubt that everyone has something of value. What those things are is completely dependent upon the person’s values. Some things like cash and jewels have an obvious universal value but how important those are to the person, depends on many variables such as what other assets they own. Valuables can also be something as simple as old family photos or important administrative documents. No matter what they are, or how they’re defined, we all have something we care for and want to protect.
How Do We Protect Our Valuables?
That said, the next topic for consideration is How Do We Protect our Valuables? We can easily put things in a Vault or Safety Deposit Box in a Bank or other Secure Storage Facility, but that creates issues for Access.
Most people want to have ready and easy access to their valuables for any number of reasons- Speed for Weapons, Emotional times for photos, Urgent times for records, Comfort of seeing possessions personally.
For all these reasons, using an external source to secure your valuables may not be the right solution for you.
When it comes to precious cargo and sentimental value, nothing beats having them close to you as they are near and dear to your heart. That’s where the good old-fashioned SAFE comes in to play.
Safes have been used in some form or fashion forever. Since mankind was hiding food stores in caves, to pirates burying treasure in undisclosed locations, to the current days of the Modern Safe.
However, times have changed and technology is constantly providing us with new solutions and more alternatives. Sadly, for each of these new capabilities, there are always some bad people out there who will dedicate their efforts to trying to defeat whatever measures we employ to protect what we care for. That is why it’s good to know what is out there in the form of types of safes, how they work, what they can and can’t do for you, and which one is right for your needs. That said, let’s look at what’s out there.
Plan For The Worst Case Scenarios
Safes at Home. A few things should be considered as fundamentals for any Home Safe. Firstly, you should always prepare for water damage to your home and valuables. All homes have water, even in the desert; if there were a water heater break, a crazy flash flood, or a freak rainstorm, you want to feel confident that your goodies are protected. How do you protect your valuables from water damage? Easy! Put your items in zip lock bags or even Tupperware containers, or buy a fire and water resistant bag for an extra layer of protection because, in case of a house fire, the items not damaged by the fire are often destroyed by water.
Fireproof should be the other fundamental absolute for any home safe. Fires can happen to anyone at any time, strike without warning, and completely destroy everything in a matter of moments. Again, you want to be 100% confident your prized possessions are safe when fire strikes.
Burglary is one of the top considerations for your safe. There is a big difference between protecting important paperwork, photos, and insurance documents from protecting family heirloom jewelry, guns, and other high ticket valuables. Consider when buying a safe what you plan to store in it and how quickly you want to access the items.
For instance, you will want a quick access gun safe for home defense purposes and you may want another gun safe tucked away in a closet for your collectible and hunting firearms.
When it comes to protecting important paperwork, photos, and insurance documents, look for burglar-fire safes, you get the best of both worlds: fire and burglary protection. Don’t forget about water damage! Toss your important items into a waterproof container of your choosing. And consider making copies of your important documents and store them on a memory stick (thumb drive), and place it in an alternate location from the original copies.
So, the best COA, or Course of Action, is to do what Special Ops does in their decision-making process- Consider what is the Worst Case Scenario, and then consider what is the Most Likely Scenario. These answers will drive your decision and will be a determining factor for cost.
Your Budget vs. Your Protection Needs?
The final decision will then come down primarily to Budget & Space. How Much can you afford, may drive going for the Most Likely price point versus the Most Extreme level of protection and the cost that comes with it.
Now, let’s consider further some of the items that you might want to put in a safe as it drives what kind of safe and/or how many safes you need. Documents are easy to store and take up very little space. I recommend keeping them in a separate safe for emergencies. If you need to evacuate, you don’t want to have to try and move a walk-in safe with a full gun collection, or go into it, and take out the documents and risk exposing them to whatever the hazard is which is forcing the evacuation. So make it something you can carry easily out of the house to the car or safe place.
If you have a lot of documents and photos, consider having 2 safes, one for each. Then decide which one you’ll grab first in an emergency. Also, for valuables like jewels, gold, watches etc, have those in a safe you can easily grab in an emergency. It is good to take photos of everything, store those photos on a hard drive and then have that stored off-site, in a bank vault so you have proof of those valuables in case they are lost for insurance purposes, and it’s good to have that insurance as part of your home protection.
For those who have a lot of items, such as rifles, guns, hunting weapons, collectables, specialty arms, etc, carrying them out is not an option. That is why the first 2 considerations are essential, fire and water proof is a must. This way, in a worst case scenario, you know they’ll survive so you just need to focus on saving your family and yourself.
Some folks had a lot of mid-size items they want to protect, You may need a safe to protect communications equipment and computers, or medical supplies and pharmaceuticals. These can also be a bit too heavy to grab in an emergency but a small roller dolly can help with that if needed.
Ease of Access To Your Weapons, Survival Gear & Valuables
The next most important consideration for everyone buy a safe is ACCESS.
There are all sorts of ways these days to get into your safe. Some folks prefer combination locks, and some prefer digital versions. This comes down to a personal preference; ultimately, it's YOU that needs to be comfortable with the ease of accessing your valuables.
I can assure you that burglars are not interested in waiting around to crack codes; it’s too risky to stay in the home for longer than necessary. They will often try to steal the safe first, assuming that the safe must hold your most precious valuables and they can use tools to break into it at another location.
Your best course of action to keep your safe and the valuables inside secure from theft is to buy a good quality safe with thick walls, a UL-certified locking mechanism, bolt your safe to the floor, and place your safe in an unlikely location. Burglars have a small window of time to find the "goods," so don't make it easy for them by placing your safe in plain sight. And again, make sure you are comfortable that YOU can access the valuables quickly and effortlessly.
Prepare & Practice!
During moments of high stress, such as home invasions, floods, or fire evacuations, your memory will not be at its highest form. Remembering your combinations, codes, or where you placed a key seems easy now; it becomes less easy when your heart rate is up, and your body has entered into a fight or flight mode. So, spend time opening and closing your safe often; this will help create muscle memory and make your choices more efficient during a crisis.
Of course, there is one often overlooked point of exploitation in all of these.
If someone managed to get into your home at gunpoint, and held you or someone you love hostage, then most likely you’ll be giving them the keys, codes or access they need. It is good to think about this scenario and plan your personal COA’s accordingly. This is for each person to decide.
You Can Never Be Too Safe
Another small but vital subset for the consideration of buying a Safe, should be to ask yourself, do you need one for your Car, Boat, Plane or Office? Each should be evaluated as these may be your primary transport out of danger with your valuables. You may simply need a place to store your guns and money while traveling. Contemplate your lifestyle and see if having one for these would be of benefit.
Also, for all mobile safes, being defined as anything you can carry, you may want to have a secondary way to secure them to their location. This holds true for full-sized safes as well. For example, Consider having a Big Home Safe bolted to the cement floor or mounted to the frame of the building. You may want uncuttable cables to secure the portable safes to the frame of the car, boat or plane? All of these are good options and good to think about.
Finally, one last consideration is for those into Survival and having an Off Grid or Safe House location, you might want to consider having a safe there. You might even consider going full Pirate or Special Ops and actually making Cache Site for your Safe. This is usually a secret hidden chamber in a vehicle, or secret room in a house, false wall or simply a hole dug somewhere on your property. Make sure it’s protected from the soil and elements so you can still access it regardless of locking mechanism. There are many businesses out there that specialize in creative ways of hiding valuables.
So protecting them from sight is a good step in addition to protecting them in a Safe. Whatever you choose, it is good to care enough to protect those things you hold dear. Be Well & Be Safe!
Mykel Hawke is a Retired Special Forces Combat Vet. He served as a Senior Special Forces Sergeant qualified as a Medic, Communicator & Intelligence Operator. He returned to serve as a Special Forces Officer after 9/11 & retired in 2011. He’s currently licensed as a Deputy Sheriff, FCC Radio Operator, National Paramedic & International Project Manager.
Hawke did Combat Search & Rescue for the State Department in Afghanistan from 2019-2020. He currently works as a contract Advisor to Special Operations Command. Hawke is best known for his over 50 TV shows in the Survival & Special Ops space, as well as his dozen books from Language to Medicine and his dozens of Survival Products. Mykel is Married, with 3 sons, 3 grandkids and he resides in Miami, Fl.
Visit www.mykelhawke.com to learn more about Mykel.
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