So you’ve decided that you need to buy a fire proof safe for your home but you don’t know where to start? Today safes are more complex (and sophisticated and protected) than ever but we’re here to help you understand the buying process when it comes to fire proof safes.
Let’s start at the beginning as we try to understand what exactly a fire proof safe is – these sorts of safes are designed to release moisture during a fire. That means that as the outside of the safe gets hotter and hotter, the inside can maintain a mild temperature so that papers and other valuables are less likely to catch fire. This moisture inside the safe is released and ensures that the temperature inside the safe won’t raise to a level at which these precious objects would ignite. Most safes are rated by how long your papers and valuables will be protected. For example, small safes may have a half hour rating but most carry a rating of between 1 and 3 hours total. Typically these sorts of safes will protect any documents that you as a home or small business owner require. If you work at a large scale company that protects official records you might require a four hour safe. In addition to these sort of ratings, safes may also be tested by any one of the following testing organizations:
• Private Laboratory Testing
• K.I.S. (Korean Industrial Standard) Fire Test
• U.L. (Underwriters Laboratory) Class of Fire Protection
The most thorough and widely recognized of these is the UL Classes. These ratings mean that the safe has been sanctioned by an independent organization and not just the manufacturer and have a different (but complementary) set of ratings. For example, a UL Class C safe is proven to protect papers to a temperature of 1700F for one hour. This is equivalent to a One Hour Rating.
If you are aiming to protect more than just your papers, you might also want to consider a media safe. Now more and more people are storing their precious valuable documents electronically – often by CD or DVD. Electronic media is more sensitive to heat than is paper, these special media safes are better protected and more heavily insulated. As a media safe has to maintain a lower internal temperature than a safe designed for paper goods, it is safe to store your paper in a media safe but not safe to store your electronic media in a paper safe.
Understanding this complex set of safe rankings will help equip you with the tools to chose the best safe for your needs and the needs of your family.
A special word of warning though: if you buy a fire safe, don’t expect it to protect against burglars unless the safe says it is BOTH fire and burglar protected!
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