Home SafesHome safes are only for rich people who have millions of pounds worth of jewels and cash to secure, right? Wrong. Anyone can have a safe in their home, but the first important question you need to ask yourself is if you actually do need a safe?

If you are thinking about buying and installing a home safe, you need to work out what you are going to store inside it. This will help you to assess whether or not you do really need a safe, and if you do, the type and location of safe you are going to need.

If you usually store large amounts of cash or jewellery in the house, you should seriously consider whether or not these should be kept in a bank deposit box. This can also apply to family heirlooms and items that may not have a large cash value, but their sentimental worth makes them irreplaceable. Consider how often you actually need access to these items, the less frequent, the more appropriate bank storage becomes.

Once you’ve decided that a safe is a necessity, you need to check out the type of safe that suits your property.

  • Wall Safe – this is the popular image of a home safe, but remember, your wall must be strong enough to bear the weight of the safe and its concrete mountings, so you must have a solid brick wall that meets the safe manufacturer’s requirements for installation.

    Floor Safe – certainly easier to conceal, but again you need a concrete base for the safe, and sufficient depth for the safe door to be located at floor level. This means you need a solid floor, and is usually no good at all for any room above ground level.

  • Freestanding Safe – this type of safe will minimise the amount of disruption during installation. As the name suggests, the safe is not set into the wall or floor, but stands alone on the floor, and is secured by a series of bolts through the safe body into the floor. Again this requires a minimum load-bearing floor and sufficient depth to sink the security bolts.

You should give some serious thought to the items you are going to store in your safe, it will inform the choice of safe that you make. There are two basic types of safe to choose from –

  • Cash Safe – This type of safe is designed to secure cash and important papers such as property deeds, stock certificates, wills, and so on. The essential aspect of a Cash Safe is its ability to withstand an external temperature of 177 Degrees Centigrade, which is the temperature at which paper catches fire. If your property is destroyed by fire, your safe will keep your cash and documents safe. Consult your insurance company who will insure a maximum amount of cash for your safe, based on its construction. This is called a ‘cash rating’. As a general rule, most insurance companies will insure valuables for ten times the cash rating, so if you are authorised to store £2,000 in cash, you should be able to store £20,000 in valuables, but always check with your insurers, do not assume that they apply this general guide.
  • Data Safe – Increasingly in the computerised age, valuable information is stored on computer media in the form of discs and CD-ROMs. If you store this type of item in your safe, then you need a specific construction which will protect your items above a temperature of 52 Degrees Centigrade which is a far lower temperature at which plastic will ignite.

A home safe is an expensive investment, and once you have decided that your particular valuables storage and access requires one, resist the temptation to tell anyone about your new security arrangements. The fewer people who know about your home safe, the less chance there is of that information falling into the wrong hands.

Similarly, only advise your safe combination on a strictly ‘need-to-know’ basis. If you are the only keeper of your combination, put the details in writing, and secure them with your solicitor or bank, to be divulged only to a named individual after your death.

Finally, choose your combination carefully. Avoid obvious numbers such as birthdays, telephone numbers, address numbers and so on – burglars will take seconds to access your safe if you make it that easy for them. Choose random numbers and memorise them. If you must write them down, put them out of sequence, and keep the number under lock and key.

A home safe will pay for its purchase and installation costs many times over in peace of mind for you and your family. If you choose your safe properly, and keep its security and location safe, you will have nothing to fear, and your valuable cash, jewels, heirlooms and data can all be kept safe and secure.