Safes aren’t just for burglaries anymore. In fact, their biggest utility may lie in protecting against Mother Nature herself. Fireproof and waterproof safes and chests can safeguard your most valuable items when everything else goes up in flames. In this article, we’ll share some details about how fireproof safes and waterproof chests operate.
Fireproof safes and their features
Just how fireproof is a fireproof safe? And how can you tell? It’s all about the fire rating.
A fireproof safe is constructed from a double-walled steel body with a cavity filled with fire-resistant composite. Depending on the brand, this composite may be perlite, vermiculite, or something else. It will almost always contain a hydrate such as alum or gypsum that releases water vapor when heated.
A fire safe does more than physically keep out the flames. Instead, fire-resistant safes work to keep the internal temperature constant and (ideally) low enough that the materials inside are unharmed.
What is the maximum internal temperature of a fire safe? This depends on the rating. It will be different for every safe. In general, safes will not exceed 350 degrees Fahrenheit inside the safe, since paper starts to char above that temperature.
For instance, the Gardall 1612-2 UL Two Hour Fire Safe withstood a furnace test of 1850 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours without the internal temperature of the safe exceeding 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Other fire safes might be one hour or thirty-minute fire safes. And they might be rated for different internal temperatures.
What is a good fire rating for my safe?
Pretty much all fire ratings sound impressive, and they should. The technology that makes a modern fire safe work is pretty advanced. But what rating should you look for to keep belongings safe from typical house fires?
If you only want to protect paper, just about any fire safe on the market will do. If you want to protect computer hard drives and photos, you’ll want a safe that doesn’t rise above 125 degrees Fahrenheit.
How long does the fire safe need to withstand the fire? That depends on your home’s fire risk. One hour should be good enough for most situations. Two hours is even better.
Waterproof chests and their features
Waterproof chests are tested differently. They are completely submerged. If the inside remains bone dry, then the chest is considered to be waterproof. You can trust that any of the waterproof chests on this page will keep your belongings dry in a flood.
Some safes are also fireproof and waterproof. The Honeywell 1106 Molded Fire/Water Chest, for example, has a very good fire rating and can be considered totally waterproof in all but the most extreme situations.
If you have a sprinkler system in your home, this kind of safe is the best of both worlds. It would be terrible if a fire safe kept your papers intact, only for the sprinkler system to flood the safe and ruin your belongings. For total protection invest in both.
There are a huge variety of good options out on the market for fireproof safes and waterproof chests. But the various ratings can be bewildering. Now that you understand how these sophisticated safes work, you can find the right product for you with confidence.