One can never know when a disaster or a calamity will strike. That’s why having a fireproof safe is a necessity for homes and office spaces these days. You can store documents, essential items, and necessary tech in the safe away from harm’s reach. But if the inevitable happens, how long does a fireproof safe last?
We’ll dig a little deeper into how fireproof safe works and what you should know when deciding to purchase one for your own.
Do You Really Need A Fireproof Safe?
Every year, the crime rate continues to increase. In the United States alone, in the year 2000, about 1.4 million residential burglaries have been reported. Billions of dollars or items worth that value has been stolen. This is one major reason to invest in a safe, whether it is for your home or office use. A quality safe can minimize the risk of losing your essential and valued items. Before learning how long does a fireproof safe last, it is important first to know what kinds of items you can store in a fireproof safe.
You may want to invest in a fireproof safe or a fireproof cabinet instead. Knowing the difference can save you money and important space in the assigned room. But generally, you can virtually store anything in a fireproof safe – from paper products to media.
Note: The UL rating* on the safe needs to be at least 350 degrees F for paper and 125 degrees F for all types of media.
*The UL (Underwriter’s Laboratories) Rating or Label: UL Recognized Component Labels are labels that have met a permanence of marking criteria via testing
What To Keep Inside A Fireproof Safe?
Generally, you’d want to keep valuable items inside the safe to protect them against heat and smoke damage. If you are away from the general vicinity, a fire can rage on for hours, depending on the location and environment feeding the flame. When investing in a fireproof safe, remember these items and the type of safe you need to store them in:
- Paper documents, passports, and certificates will need to be stored in a safe that can withstand 350 degrees F or more.
- Data items such as internal hard drives, computer backups, and media tapes will need to be kept in a safe that can withstand 150 degrees F or more. These are prone to heat damage and are most vulnerable.
- Digital media such as USBs, CDs, and DVDs will need to be stored in a safe that can withstand a temperature of 238 degrees F or more.
If you’re going through a list of other things you’d like to keep in a safe, here is a list of recommended items to store inside a safe:
- Insurance Policy Documents. First things first, in the case of fire – make sure you’re insured.
- Financial Statements, Retirement Papers, Investments, and Bank Account Information.
- Passports, Birth Certificates, and Essential Identification papers.
- Family or Background Papers such as important medical history, prescription, emergency contacts, or processing papers.
- Keys to valuable areas such as the bank safety deposit box.
- Cash and other valuables like collectible coins and jewelry.
- Data, media, and hard drives.
How Long Does A Fireproof Safe Last?
There are a few important things you need to know when it comes to learning how long does a fireproof safe last.
As mentioned earlier, the UL rating on the safe needs to be at least 350 degrees F for paper and 125 degrees F for all types of media.
To make sure it has earned the degree as a fireproof safe, there are different periods for fireproof depending on the UL rating. Look for the UL label. A safe can be UL-listed and is rated for fire resistance.
- The most common UL ratings are for 30 minutes, one hour, two hours, three hours, and four hours. As time increases, so does the temperature to which the safe is heated. The safes are subjected to these tests:
- Thirty minutes – the safe is heated to 1550 degrees F.
- One hour – to 1700 degrees F.
- Two hours – 1850 degrees F.
- Three hours – 1920 degrees F.
- Four hours – 2000 degrees F.
Even though the fire externally has been turned off, the chances are that the internal temperature inside is still stable or rising. The cooling period can take a long time. The temperatures stated above only dictate the temperature set when tested for its UL rating. It may seem like the safe can withstand fire externally, but remember that if it reaches a certain point, items inside the safe can still break down because of the heat. Make sure that you double check the UL label on the safe to be sure that it is accurately rated for the types of contents that you are going to store. Find out more about Fireproof Safes.
So You Want To Buy A Fireproof Safe?
Now that you know how a safe is rated and how long does a fireproof safe last, you may be intending to invest in one at this point. Here are a few tips when it comes to buying a fireproof safe:
- List down what you intend to store. When you know what to store, you will find a compatible safe for it. You can’t store computer data in a fire-safe rated for paper because it will melt. Once you’ve figured out what you are storing, you can browse through the different types of fireproof safes, such as data safes or document storage safes.
- Look for the fire ratings. Data Safes carry a UL 125 or UL 72 Rating. Document Storage Safes carry the UL 350 fire rating. UL 125 is tested for media, such as computer discs, microfilm, and videotapes. This means that during the 1 hour 1700 degree F test the internal temperature of the safe will not exceed 125 degrees F. UL 350 is tested for the storage of paper documents which will char at 400 degrees F. If passed, this assures that the internal temperature will not exceed 350 degrees F.
- Make sure it passed the UL test. It should state “UL Listed” and not rated or tested to UL standards. Buyers beware!
- The weight of the safe matters. Can your floor support it? You may need an engineer to inspect it for you.
- Determine the number of hours you need for fire protection. A one-hour fireproof safe should be able to provide enough protection, but it should be best to check if your area is prone to fires. Consult with an expert.
- Do you need extra security for burglary? There are also UL Listed products that are tested for burglary and theft.
After knowing how long does a fireproof safe last, you must remember that even though fireproof safes are proven to be effective against fire, they are not always damage-proof. It will not always prevent burglaries, especially if it’s a professional burglar. If you are worried about theft, you will need to look into a burglary secured safe.
When you’re ready to purchase a fireproof safe, make sure that you check the UL label to make sure that it is accurately rated for the types of contents that you are going to store.