A fireproof safe should be a required thing to buy for any house or apartment. The safe can not only be used to store valuable items such as money, jewelry or important documents, but the fireproof property of the safe would add an extra layer of security, and provide the owner with a peace of mind knowing that his/her valuable items would be safe, even in the case of a fire. Our top pick is the First Alert 2092DF Waterproof 1-Hour Fire Safe with Digital Lock. Your valuables like jewelry, cash savings and other important documents will remain completely safe in the event of a fire or a flood in the First Alert 2092DF. This safe is certified by UL and ETL to protect your valuable property against fire damage for up to one hour and for a temperature of up to 1700°F. The safe would also protect electronic media from fire damage as has been independently verified. If you are willing to spend some more money, you can buy the SentrySafe SFW123DSB 1.23 Cubic Feet Combination Fire Safe. The safe has combination lock and is UL classified for advanced fire protection of one hour at a temperature of up to 1700°F/927°C. The safe has 4 large 1-inch bolts which are 60% bigger than the bolts found in traditional safes. You can even keep your valuable information stored in CDs, DVDs or USB sticks inside the safe as it is verified by ETL to protect your electronic storage mediums for up to one hour in the event of a fire. If your budget is not as big as to cover the prices of the safes mentioned above, then do not be disheartened as there are many other great choices. One of them is the Paragon 7800 Electronic Digital Lock and Safe Fire Proof Home Security Heavy Duty. This safe has an electronic lock system so it eliminates the need for carrying around keys. The hinges in this safe are concealed so they are tamper-proof. In the event of a fire, the safe can protect your valuables for up to 30 minutes at a temperature of up to 1700°F.
Determining what to save
The average house fire will burn at a temperature of about 1100°F which is not hot enough to destroy most metals and substances made of earth, but it is definitely hot enough to burn through papers and other electronic things that you may want to protect. For this reason, it is always a good idea to invest in a fireproof safe. Most fireproof safes are rated safe even at temperatures as high as 1700°F, so you would not have to worry about your valuables getting destroyed by fire.
The first thing that you need to determine before you go and buy a safe is what are the things that you need to protect. This is an answer that you know best. Take a look into your wallet/purse/pocket and determine which items would be difficult or impossible to replace. Then think about those things in your home that could never be replaced in the case of a fire, flood or other disasters. FEMA has a tentative checklist of things that one would consider as valuables and therefore needs to take measures to safeguard them against any form of damage. These include important records (marriage, birth, adoption, custody certificates), licenses, passports, property deeds and medical records:
* Important records (adoption, marriage, birth, divorce, child custody, death certificates)
* Documents like passport and driver’s license which will establish your identity
* Social Security cards
* Records relating to your current place of residence such as mortgages, leases and property deeds
* Financial documents like bank accounts, pay stubs, etc.
* The legal titles for your auto and home
* Documents pertaining to auto, home, life and other insurance policies
* Documents that would help you or your family claim property rights, such as power of attorney, wills and living wills
* Recent tax returns
* Record of medical information such as list of different diseases and the appropriate medication, health provider contact information, etc.
* Debit/credit card numbers
* Documents which provide information on the safes held in banks and keys needed to unlock those
* Records of Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) and passwords
* Inventory of valuables, photographic or electronic
You can of course consider many other things as valuable to you or your family and choose to protect them by keeping them safely locked up in a fireproof safe.
Deciphering the fire ratings
Once you have decided on the reason for buying the fireproof safe, whether to protect documents or computer accessories, you need to look at the fire rating of the safe. If you are buying a safe to store computer accessories, you would need to look for a safe with a much lower rating of 125, whereas for storing paper documents, you can look for a higher rating.
So what do these rating numbers mean? A fire rating of 125 signifies that the temperature inside the safe will never go above 125°F no matter how hot the fire becomes outside. For testing the heat protection capabilities of a safe designed to store documents, the maximum temperature that the inside of the safe is allowed to reach is 350°F because paper (or money) will start to get charred at a temperature of 387°F and will start to burn at 451°F. Hence all the fire tests conducted set the temperature benchmark at 350°F, so as soon as the temperature inside the safe starts to exceed 350 degrees, the test is marked as finished.
The Underwriter Laboratories (UL) is the most accepted means of rating and testing products from around the world. UL would even regularly visit the manufacturing facilities of the safes and perform random inspections to make sure that the safes that have been marked as safe during initial testing continues to adhere to the same standards. UL tests the products by preheating the testing oven with the safe inside to the desired temperature and then cooling it artificially. UL would also perform drop tests by dropping the safes from a height of up to 30 feet. An indirect explosion test is carried out as well. The different classes of UL classifications are described below.
UL Class 125 safes are able to keep the temperature inside the safe below 125 degrees, which was developed when floppy disks were invented, and a humidity of 80%. The electronic storage media of today like CDs and DVDs can safely withstand a temperature of up to 350 degrees. The class ratings are used in conjunction with hour ratings of ½, 1, 2, 3 or 4.
UL Class 150 safes keeps the internal temperature less than 150°F and 85% humidity. These safes were designed to protect computer data tapes and magnetic reel-to-reel tapes. These safes can also be used to store some optical media like CDs. The class ratings are juxtaposed with hour ratings of ½, 1, 2, 3 or 4.
UL Class 350 safes keep the temperature inside less than 350°F and 85% humidity. These safes are used for storing paper documents. The hour ratings that are used with this class rating are ½, 1, 2, 3 or 4.
Other factors to be considered
After you have looked at the fire rating of the safes, and have determined the one that would suit your purposes, there are some other factors that you also need to consider. Fireproof safes can have quite a weight to them depending on their size, so you need to make sure that the place where you are placing the safe is strong enough to withstand this weight, and will not collapse. Also keep in mind that if the place where the safe is located does catch fire, the flooring underneath the safe may become structurally weak and give up under the weight of the safe. So make sure if that happens, the safe does not fall down into a spot from where it would be very difficult or worse, impossible, to retrieve it after the fire has been extinguished. And the last, but definitely not the least, factor to consider is the price of the safe that you are buying. You can buy safes that are $150, or you can easily spend a $1,000 on a safe, but keep in mind that an expensive safe is expensive because it is made from better material compared to the cheap safes, and in the event of a fire, would provide better protection. The things kept inside the safe cannot be replaced if they are destroyed, so make a wise choice when buying a safe and don’t just look at the price.
The Top Pick: First Alert 2092DF Waterproof 1-Hour Fire Safe with Digital Lock
First Alert 2092DF Waterproof 1-Hour Fire Safe with Digital Lock.
The First Alert 2092DF safe is designed to offer solution to the three major hazards that one can face with their valuables: theft, flood and fire. The safe has a solid build made out of composite material, and the watertight seal prevents the contents inside from getting damaged either from the flood water or from water used to fight fire if the need arises. The watertight seal keeps the interior of the safe completely dry even if it is completely submerged in water. The anti-theft feature of the safe includes the patented pry-resistant concealed hinges, a digital lock which you can program using your own 4 to 8-digit pass-code and four bolts which locks solidly.
The fire resistant properties of the First Alert 2092DF have been certified by UL. The safe can withstand an external temperature of up to 1700°F for up to one hour whileinside the safe the temperature will not rise above 350°F. The safe has also been tested by ETL, an independent testing lab, and verified to protect digital media like external hard drives, memory sticks, CD’s and DVD’s. This will give you the ultimate peace of mind knowing that you can prevent your valuables from getting damaged from any kind of calamities, natural or man-made, without having to buy different safes for storing documents and computer media devices.
The main complaints from customers seemed to be that the instructions on programming the pin-code for the electronic lock on the safe for the first time is incorrect. Many customers have documented their frustrating experience of trying to program the safe, having the safe lock itself after a couple of tries, and then waiting for 15 minutes before trying to repeat the process again. After many calls to the customer service the problem was solved. Though this is a sloppy error from the manufacturer’s side, hopefully the error would be fixed in due time to give seamless experience to the customer. Also remember that all fireproof safes will have a moist lining to protect them, so if you are drilling a hole into the safe to attach it to the wall, or for whatever other reason, you would allow the moisture to evaporate out over time, thus compromising the fireproof properties of the safe. So if you want to secure your safe with the wall or the ground you have to be creative about it and find some other means to do so.
SentrySafe SFW123DSB 1.23 Cubic Feet Combination Fire-Safe
The SentrySafe SFW123DSB Combination Fire Safe is designed to protect the contents from theft, fire and flood water. The SentrySafe SFW123DSB is certified by the Underwriter Laboratories (UL) and Edison Testing Laboratories (ETL) for providing one-hour fire protection at an external temperature of up to 1700°F. The safe is capable of resisting water damage even if it is sitting in 8 inches in water for 24 hours. The safe has been dropped from a height of 15 feet without the contents of the safe getting damaged and the safe unlocking. If you enroll in the SentrySafe Fire Protection Guarantee, you would get up to $50,000 as insurance for your valuables that you decide to put inside the safe. Additionally, if your safe is damaged by fire, SentrySafe would replace your safe. The exterior of the safe is constructed out of solid steel with four 1-inch live-locking steel bolts. These bolts are 60 percent bigger than the bolts found on traditional safes. Additional protection from forced entry is provided by the pry-resistant hinge bar. The safe has a dual combination lock and key mechanism which allows for increased security of the contents.
A bolt-down kit is included with the safe which can be used to secure the safe to the floor. The SentrySafe SFW123DSB is equipped with smart features like a small pocket for storing CDs and DVDs, a key rack and a tray right on the interior of the door for quick access. Also the adjustable shelf inside the safe helps in organizing the things.
The main complaint about this product seemed to be that the customers had defective products shipped to them, so when they tried to use the product for what it was intended for, the product naturally malfunctioned. Also some users have noted that even though the bolting mechanism comes with the safe, the user manual warns that if the safe is bolted down to the floor, it removes the water resistance properties of the safe. This is a rather annoying and dangerous fact, which the company will hopefully address in the near future. Otherwise, the safe have garnered lots of praise from so many other owners.
The Heavy Duty Safe: Paragon 7800 Electronic Digital Lock and Safe Fire Proof Home Security Heavy Duty
Paragon 7800 Electronic Digital Lock and Safe Fire Proof Home Security Heavy Duty
The Paragon 7800 has a digital keypad which takes a secret PIN of 3 to 8 digits. The keypad can be programmed easily by the user an infinite number of times. The safe can also be unlocked using the keys that are provided free-of-cost. The safe is constructed out of 11 gauge solid steel which can resist hand and mechanical tool attacks. The safe offers added security by making the hinges concealed, and hence tamper-proof. The safe is fire rated for a temperature of 1700°F for 30 minutes. Inside the shelf, you can easily store your valuables thanks to the one removable interior shelf present for a total of two shelves counting the bottom. The shelf is easy to install as it comes with pre-drilled holes inside the safe and the included fixing bolt bolts allows the safe to firmly anchor to the floor.
Best Waterproof Safe for storing files: SentrySafe HD4100CG Fire-Safe Waterproof File
SentrySafe HD4100CG Fire-Safe Waterproof File
The SentrySafe HD4100CG can be used to secure your files and folders. The safe will hold standard sized hanging file folders to make organizing your home or office a breeze. The safe is UL classified as fireproof for 30 minutes at a temperature of up to 1550℉. The safe is also verified by ETL as fireproof for media devices like CDs, DVDs and memory sticks for 30 minutes. The safe can protect your valuable documents from water as has been verified by ETL. For security, the safe comes with a lock which can be opened with the keys provided. If the file holder is destroyed by a fire, do not despair as SentrySafe will ship a new file holder to you.
Best Combination Fire Safe for storing files: SentrySafe SF123CS Combination Fire-Safe File
SentrySafe SF123CS Combination Fire-Safe File
The SentrySafe SF123CS has a capacity of 1.23 cubic feet to contain your valuables. The safe is made out of steel and for added security, it contains four live-locking bolts and a pry-resistant hinge bar. The safe can endure a temperature of up to 1700℉ for a time period of one hour. If you are planning to put media devices like CDs, DVDs and memory sticks inside the safe, you can do so without any worries as this safe has been verified as safe to store such devices by ETL. If you are concerned about your safe falling down from a height and the contents inside getting destroyed, then have no fear as the SentrySafe SF123CS has passed the 15-foot/45 meter drop test administered by ETL. If your safe is destroyed by fire, then SentrySafe will replace it, so you do not have to worry about getting another safe.
Best Electronic Fire Safe: SentrySafe SFW123GDC 1.23 Cubic Feet Electronic Fire-Safe
SentrySafe SFW123GDC 1.23 Cubic Feet Electronic Fire-Safe
The safe has both an electronic lock and a mechanical lock, which would allow the user to unlock the safe using either a PIN code, or if he/she forgets it, then the key can be used to unlock the safe. The electronic lock can easily be programmed by the user, so you can provide a PIN that would be easy for you to remember. The safe consists of four 1-inch steel bolts, which are 60 percent bigger than the bolts found on traditional safes. A hinge bar that is pry-resistant provides additional security from burglars. The safe has been certified by UL and ETL as safe in the event of a fire for up to one hour, and the safe has been verified by ETL to be water resistant in up to 8 inches in water for 24 hours. The safe has gone through tests where it has been dropped from a height of 15 feet where the safe has remained locked and the contents inside has remained unharmed. The interior of the safe door has a pocket for keeping small items like CDs and DVDs, a tray and a key rack which can be accessed quickly. There is a locking drawer inside the safe which provides added privacy. There is a bright LED light inside the safe to help you locate your things in the dark, while the electronic keypad present in the front of the safe is backlit, so you can open the safe in the dark without any problem. A bolt-down kit is included with the safe so that you can easily secure the safe by attaching it strongly to the floor.
Best Combination Fire Safe with large storage space: First Alert 2092F Waterproof 1 Hour Fire Safe with Combination Lock
First Alert 2092F Waterproof 1 Hour Fire Safe with Combination Lock
The First Alert 2092F safe has a slightly larger storage space of 1.3 cubic feet where most of the safes available at this price point has storage space of around 1.2 cubic feet. The safe has a 4 combination dial security lock and comes with 1 emergency override security key. For additional security, the safe has pry-resistant hinges which are concealed and four solid locking bolts. The safe is UL certified to withstand an external temperature of 1700℉ for one hour, in which time the temperature inside the safe will never exceed 350℉, hence making sure that your paper documents will remain safe in the event of a fire. The watertight seal of the safe makes the safe waterproof and makes sure that your media devices stored inside the safe will remain dry even if the safe is completely submerged in water.
Best Fire Safe with Combination Lock: SentrySafe SFW123CU Combination Fire Safe
SentrySafe SFW123CU Combination Fire Safe
The multi-position shelf in the SentrySafe SFW123CU will help you to keep your things organized without much trouble. In addition to that, there are pockets on the interior of the door which you can use to keep small objects like CDs and DVDs, along with a key rack and door tray. The safe is UL certified to withstand temperatures of 1700℉ for one hour and is water resistant in 8 inches of water for up to 24 hours. The safe is also impact resistant as has been tested by dropping it from a height of 15 feet and the safe remaining unharmed. When it comes to security, the SFW123CU has a pry resistant hinge bar and four large 1-inch bolts.
Best Digital Fireproof Safe that can withstand high heat: LockState LS-30D Digital Fireproof Safe
LockState LS-30D Digital Fireproof Safe
While most other safes in this price point are rated at 1700℉ for one hour of protection for your valuables, the LockState LS-30D can provide protection at temperatures of up to 1850℉ for one hour, making it even safer to use in case a real fire breaks out. The safe has a digital lock which can be programmed with a 3-6 digit code. In case you forget the PIN code that you have programmed in the safe, the override key ensures that you will never be locked out. The safe is pry resistant and has both stationary and moving locking bolts to provide extra protection.
Best Small Fire Safe: Honeywell Model 2202 Steel Fire and Security Safe
Honeywell Model 2202 Steel Fire and Security Safe
Having a storage space of 0.73 cubic feet, the Honeywell Model 2202 Steel Fire and Security Safe is among the smaller storage area safes that are available in the market. The safe is constructed out of double steel walls to ensure that your valuables are safe inside, along with a digital lock with protective flip-up cover and two solid live lock bolts. The safe has a 1 hour UL class 350 fire protection at temperatures of up to 1700℉/927℃. The cabinet and door of the safe are water resistant. For easy installation, the safe comes with a mounting kit and pre-drilled holes in the safe where you can fit the bolts.
A safe is very important to have in any home in order to protect the documents and other objects which may have sentimental value to you and to your family. We think the best is the First Alert 2092DF Waterproof 1-Hour Fire Safe with Digital Lock. To increase the level of protection, purchasing a fireproof safe would ensure that your valuables are safe even in the event of a fire. The fireproof safes can be used not only to store documents, but also media devices, which means you do not have to buy another safe just for that purpose. The fact that fireproof safes nowadays also have water resistant capabilities means that you do not have to worry about trying to waterproof your safe so that it is not destroyed in the event of a flood or in the event of a fire when the firefighters are fighting the fire with water. We recommend that when you are buying a safe, look for ones that would allow you to have emergency access. In case you forget the PIN for the electronic lock or the number from the combination lock, you can insert the key in the emergency unlock mechanism and unlock the safe. Some of the safes have nice features like removable shelves which would help you to better organize the contents of the safe, some safes have places on the door where you can keep small things, and some safes have lights installed inside the safe which would allow you to see in the dark. Just make sure that when you are buying such a safe you pay close attention to the different security features and the fire rating of the safe, and not only think about the price. It is your priceless possessions at stake after all.
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.