Safe Selection Guidelines

Selecting the right safe for your needs

  • What is especially difficult for most homeowners or business owners who already know they have a need for a safe is the lack of resources available to assist customers with safe selection. There are lots of websites with many safes to choose from, and there are safe selectors with drop down menus that definitely provide lots of choices. Simple guidance and an ear for what you want and don't want, along with a view of what is available, makes the decision making process much easier. We are here to help you with the safe selection process and help you to determine what your needs are, in order to better guide you in buying the right safe. By taking a minute or two to review some key points in safe terms, we will be able to help you with your safe selection.

    Burglary and Theft protection

    Everyone who has something to lose has a need for a safe. The Bureau of Justice reports that over 4.1 million households are burglarized in the United States each year. Most of these break-ins occur between the hours of 10 am and 2 pm. Security of the contents of a safe is often expressed with certain terms that make it difficult to determine how secure one safe is compared to another. The UL, or Underwriters Laboratory, conducts extensive testing of safes, the locks used on the safes, and provides ratings that help consumers make comparisons between models much more easily. The UL RSC, or residential security container label indicates the ability to withstand 5 full minutes of rigorous prying, drilling, punching, chiseling, and tampering attacks by UL technicians. The UL B rating indicates a safe with a door of less than 1" thickness and a body construction of less than ½" thick, with steel construction. The UL C rating indicates a safe with a door of at least 1" thickness and a body construction of at least ½" thick, also steel construction. Commercial clients or homeowners with significant investments in jewelry or precious metals should consider safes with the following classifications, as they are tested by professionals who know exactly how to attack the container. Manufacturers must conduct rigorous testing of their own products before they are submitted to the Underwriters Laboratories for testing for these classifications:

    Burglary Classification TL-15 Combination-locked safe designed to offer a limited degree of protection against attack by common mechanical and electrical hand tools and any combination of these means. Successfully resisted entry for a net working time of 15 minutes when attacked with common hand tools, picking tools, mechanical or portable electric tools, grinding points, carbide drills and pressure applying devices or mechanisms.

    Burglary Classification TL-30 Combination-locked safe designed to offer a moderate degree of protection against attack by common mechanical and electrical hand tools and any combination of these means. Successfully resisted entry for a net working time of 30 minutes when attacked with common hand tools, picking tools, mechanical or portable electric tools, grinding points, carbide drills and pressure applying devices or mechanisms, abrasive cutting wheels and power saws.

    In our process of selection the right safe for you, it is important to note that "limited degree of protection" afforded in the TL-15 container designation is actually substantial protection, and "moderate degree of protection" in the TL-30 container designation is quite substantial. It would take longer, often much longer, for someone who has limited training to open one of these safes within the time designated by the classification, and they offer a very good level of protection for both homeowner and business owner alike.

  • Fire Protection

    Statistics show that if a company's records are lost in a fire, 17% can no longer furnish a financial statement, 14% suffer a reduction in credit rating, and 43% go out of business completely. Fire is devastating, and in the event of fire, your focus must be on saving the lives of loved ones around you and not on things that can easily be protected in a good quality fire safe.

    Safes provide protection from fire in varying degrees. Plastic or metal storage boxes provide little or noprotection from fire and heat. Paper will char at 405°F to 420°F, whether it is exposed to fire or not. Guns are damaged when temperatures exceed 500°F. Every 38 seconds a residential fire occurs in the United States, and over 300,000 residential fires occur annually. Temperature in a fire can reach 1200 degrees in 10 minutes or less, and the average length of time it takes for a fire to be contained is 15 to 30 minutes. Thicker steel, more fireboard layers and thickness of the fireboard will provide greater protection from fire. Care and maintenance of the seals around the door will have a bearing on the length of time the contents are protected during a fire. A safe should provide enough fire resistance to keep the maximum internal temperature of the safe, from top to bottom, below 350°F when exposed to external temperatures of 1,200 F for 30 minutes

    When a safe is fire tested, the time at which the external temperature reaches 1200 F is an indication of how much protection the contents will have in event of fire, not just the temperature alone. A test that is performed that raises the external temperature of a safe to 1200 degrees F in 20 minutes is not the same as raising it to that same temperature in 10 minutes. The less time taken to raise that temperature, the better the protection afforded the contents of the safe.

    The Underwriters Laboratory conducts extensive testing of safes for fire resistance. Because paper will char at 405°F-420°F, UL tests to a limit of 350°F to allow a margin of safety. The temperature within the sample being tested in the safe must never, at any time, exceed 350°F, even during the cool down period, in order to pass the test. The time noted on the UL label indicates how long the fire resistant product was tested to withstand exposure to extreme temperature and still maintain a safe temperature/humidity level inside. The time lengths are ½ hour, 1 hour, 2 hours, 3 hours, and 4 hours. Theses times do not represent the total time of the tests, but are indicative of the amount of protection offered to the contents of the fire safe to stay below 350°F. After a product has passed the Fire Endurance Test, another sample of the same product may be tested for fire and impact resistance. The details of these tests can be obtained from the Underwriters Laboratories.

  • Safety and Security

    If you own a gun, consider the burden of personal liability you bear in our litigious society. You may be held liable for how your gun is used, even if you are not the one using it. Reports of over 2 million stolen guns are on file at the National Crime Information Center. 7,000 violent crimes are committed by juveniles each year using guns found in their own homes. Additionally, the cost of firearms has steadily risen in recent years and ownership of firearms may make you a target for theft or burglary as firearms become more difficult and expensive to acquire. At a minimum, the safety and security of you and your family could be at risk if anyone but you had access to your guns.

  • Extend the Life of Collectibles

    Another one of the timesaving benefits of a safe is their ability to preserve and extend the life of collectibles that are sensitive to light and humidity. When the love of a hobby turns into a collector's business with values reaching into the thousands of dollars, a safe can help protect the value and original look of those items. Stamps, coins, cards, statues, art, photos and many other collectibles located inside the safe are protected from damaging ultraviolet light. A controlled atmosphere to reduce humidity is also achieved when the safe is installed with an optional dehumidifier. Electric dehumidifier rods help reduce moisture inside the safe by raising the ambient temperature 2-3 degrees from the heat it generates. Installed through the back of the safe, the dehumidifier is warm to the touch and virtually eliminates any rust and mildew buildup on valuables. The standard 12-inch dehumidifier works for most 60” tall safes, but longer dehumidifiers may be required in larger models to reduce condensation.

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