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A fireproof safe is one of those things everyone needs, but may put off buying. After all, they can be bulky, and (hopefully) you’ll never see the resulting benefit of having one. But even if you don’t have expensive valuables like diamonds and jewelry, there’s plenty around your house right now that should be kept inside a safe, including wedding albums, heirlooms, passports, emergency cash, and maybe even hard drives with important data on them, to name a few.
Fire Safe Buying Guide
The best safes can protect your stuff at some insane temperatures, often over 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes or more depending on the material it’s made from. Since heat rises, it’s best to put these on a first level of your house or even in the garage.
A fireproof safe can usually handle debris falling on top of it, but keeping it at a lower level will prevent it from falling through the floor entirely. A few cinderblocks on top can provide some added protection too. Here are a few other key considerations to keep in mind.
Easy to Access: Though a safe should be tough against anyone trying to break in, it should be easy for you and your family to quickly access and grab what you need. Having a built-in LED light inside can be an enormous help in an emergency, so if your safe of choice doesn’t already have it, we advise getting a separate one, or at least having a charged flashlight nearby. Hooks inside can also come in handy when you need to grab small items fast without shuffling through your safe’s contents to find it.
Keys and Digital Keypads: Keys to open the door are still an old-school option, but modern safes more often offer a digital keypad. This not only lets you open it without needing a key, but in some safes, can also let you see a user history of who’s opened it and when, since everyone has their own code. Or if keys and codes are a pain to remember each time, fingerprint access is available, too.
Thick-locking bolts can protect against any attempted forced entry, and most feature a pry-resistant door that shuts tight. Since many modern safes can hook up through USB, make sure it can fit under your desk comfortably if you’re planning on connecting a laptop.
Waterproofing: To take it an extra step against the elements, many safes can also protect against rising water. Especially if you live in an area that’s prone to flooding, it’s highly advisable to go for a safe that can handle being submerged, is anti-rust, or can at least handle the fallout from sprinklers during a fire. Similarly, if you live in an area with high humidity and hot temperatures, a safe that’s made with these conditions in mind is a must to protect things like hard drives, laptops, and magnetic video tapes.
What Are the Best Fireproof Safes?
There are a lot of options for safes out there, each with various levels of harsh testing to make sure it can stand up during any situation. These four offer varying levels of security, protection and features to guard your valuables and provide peace of mind even if the worst case scenario happens.
1. SentrySafe SFW123GDC Fireproof and Waterproof Safe
This absolute beast can handle up to an hour at 1500ºF while keeping the interior temperature safe for documents and other items, survive a 15-foot fall, and is waterproof in up to eight inches for 24 hours.
The big backlit digital keypad allows for up to an eight-digit code, along with a manual key as an extra secure step to get in. It also bolts to the floor, anchoring it down against anyone attempting to take it away.
The thick door is reinforced against prying or tampering, and shuts tight with four 1-inch locking bolts. With 1.23 cubic feet of space inside, there’s plenty of room for full-size documents and folders.
There’s a convenient interior LED light for easy visibility when grabbing what you need, and also a locking inner drawer, protecting items from even those who otherwise have access to the safe.
2. First Alert Waterproof and Fire-Resistant Safe
You may already be protected by a First Alert product in your home right now. The reliable company has manufactured a bunch of emergency preparation gear, including smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, and carbon monoxide detectors.
If you’re looking to avoid a digital keypad and stick to a combination lock, this is a solid choice. The 2087F mid-sized safe provides enough space to store documents and other important assets, keeping it sealed from fire, water (even when submerged) and tampering.
Four live-locking bolts and concealed hinges protect the door from prying with a crowbar, and it can handle temps up to 1700 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour.
3. Amazon Basics Fire Resistant Box Safe
Like the name suggests, Amazon’s safe is pretty simple, but still plenty secure.
At around 90 pounds, it’s made with a two-inch thick door, 14-gauge heavy duty steel, and can be fastened to the ground as well. As far as fire resistance, this can survive for 20 minutes in temps up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit.
There’s 2.1 cubic feet of space inside, with an adjustable shelf to best utilize space for moderately-sized valuables. The electronic keypad is easy to program, and when you’re done, it locks shut with 5 large 0.75-inch bolts.
4. Honeywell Fire Resistant Steel Security Safe Box
If you’re not in need of a full or mid-sized safe, avoid the extra bulk with this portable Honeywell equipped with a built-in handle. At under 7 pounds, it’s easy to carry, with enough room inside (0.26 cubic feet) to store small items like keys, cash, medication, jewelry and documents. The hidden hinge prevents people from tampering with it, and the double-steel wall construction guards against high heat from fire. It’s also scratch-resistant to keep it looking new wherever it goes.
This opens with a digital number pad, and can store up to five user codes. For seriously irreplaceable items, it’s best to use a bigger and beefier safe. But for smaller things needed to be kept secure on-the-go, or in the trunk of your car, this 12.8×17.5×5.2-inch box will get the job done.