Tips: Safe Protection

As money-conscious savers continue to lose sleep over the financial institution crisis, consumers are increasingly taking their nest egg back to their nest -- and into a personal safe. Consumers are buying personal safes in record numbers as an alternative to storing cash as well as to maintain and store financial information, personal data and medical records. But before consumers run out and buy a safe, they should be aware of important information regarding how to choose a safe that is safe and where to place it in the home.

"When consumers purchase a personal safe, they should feel confident it can withstand certain circumstances -- like a fire -- and still protect their valuables," said John Drengenberg, manager of Consumer Affairs for Underwriters Laboratories. "Whether it is an ATM, gun safe, bank vault or personal safe, UL puts these products through meticulous testing to evaluate their design for certification."

Clad head-to-toe in protective gear, the professional technicians at Underwriters Laboratories (UL) place a personal safe -- that could contain irreplaceable documents, cash and personal records -- into a furnace chamber for 30 minutes to evaluate if the assets within the safe would get damaged.

If nothing is damaged, the technicians increase both the temperature and humidity in the furnace and heat the safe. If the assets are not destroyed, then the personal safe passes one of the many test requirements of UL, a global product safety certification organization that has been testing and certifying personal and commercial safes for more than 80 years.

"We take personal and commercial safe testing and certification very seriously," said Drengenberg. "When testing commercial safes for potential burglaries, we may use anything from wrenches, powers saws, crowbars to nitroglycerine. We may even simulate the impact a commercial safe would endure if it falls three stories."

In addition to testing and certifying personal safes for fire resistance, UL is also providing consumers with tips to help them keep their safes safe in their homes.

  • Make sure your personal safe is rated for fire protection. UL-Listed safes can be rated for fire resistance -- for example, a one-hour rating means that the safe can withstand 1,300-degree Fahrenheit heat for an hour while still protecting the contents of the safe.
  • Consider the weight of the safe. The more the safe weighs, the less likely a burglar can carry it out of a home.
  • Place the safe in the basement to decrease the risk of it falling through the floor in the event of a fire.
  • When purchasing a personal safe, look for the UL certification Mark indicating it has gone through rigorous testing and meets UL standards.

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