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Choosing a Security Safe

No one ever thinks they will be the target of burglary or fire until it happens, and by then it is too late to take the necessary steps to protect homes and businesses. Even a good insurance policy cannot replace your most precious items or sensitive paperwork once it has been stolen. A security safe or security cupboard is a valuable investment and offers you peace of mind as well as security, should you be one of the many unfortunate people that will one day need it.

With the increase in supply and demand, security safes designed for private homes have never been so affordable, or sadly so required. With identity theft a growing problem, a security safe is the ideal place to store important documents like marriage certificates, passports and credit cards. Product categories to protect cash and valuables from theft include:

How to choose a security safe

There is a bewildering array of security safes to choose from, so in order to buy the correct safe to meet your needs it helps to think about these two questions:

  1. What is the total value of the goods I wish to store in the safe?
  2. How large does the safe need to be to store them?

All cash safes are rated with what is known as a "cash rating" from the manufacturers, which gives you a good indication of how secure the safe in question is, although this rating applies only if you have installed it correctly and according to the manufacturer's recommendations.

How is the cash rating of security safes measured?

A cash rating of £1,000 means that you can store up to £1,000 or up to £10,000 worth of valuables. This means that your insurance company should insure £1000 in cash overnight. You always multiply the cash rating by 10 when you are storing jewellery or other non-cash items. A cash rating of £5,000 would therefore allow you to store up to £5,000 in cash or £50,000 in valuables. It is important to check with your insurance company if you have a specific high-value item that you wish to store, as they may require your safe to have a higher cash rating than the actual cost of the item.

This cash rating is also indicative of other factors - for example the thickness and strength of the walls and door, the security and complexity of the lock and bolt mechanics, the resistance the safe has to being moved, and the general build quality. Generally the higher the cash rating a safe has, the more secure the safe will be.

Eurograde Safes that are certified to have passed the VdS test offer the most secure protection. Safes are graded on a scale from 0 to VI, with 0 offering the lowest protection and VI the highest.

There are various options when it comes to the interior of your security safe. It's possible to get a safe with different inner compartments, for example to allow access to one compartment containing documents, but not to another containing cash. Deposit safes allow cash to be placed in the safe without the safe being opened at all by means of a deposit slot or tube.

There is also a range of possibilities when it comes to locking your safe. You can choose a key lock, or an electronic keypad requiring PIN code entry. There are time locks, combination locks, and even dual locks that require two people present to open the safe.

There are several types of fixings for security safes. Some are simply free-standing, while others can be fixed to walls or to large pieces of furniture like the inside of a wardrobe, or to the floor (for example under a bed.) There are also underfloor safes, designed to be fitted below ground level.

It is important to take all these things into consideration when choosing the correct safe to meet your needs. Whichever security safe you opt for, you can be assured that you will be taking the best possible care of your property and valuables within your budget - congratulations!

Related resources:

  • A guide to Home Security - This website from the Home Office offers practical advice and resources for crime prevention including an informative article on securing your home.
  • Neighbourhood Watch - The National Neighbourhood Watch Association website provide advice and support to regional and local Neighbourhood Watch associations with the aim of reducing crime, burglaries and anti-social behaviour.
  • SoldSecure - The Sold Secure website offers product reviews for products to enhance vehicle security, secure homes and businesses and products to protect valuables.
  • British Security Industry Association - The British Security Industry Association is the professional trade association for the security industry in the UK and its aim is to raise awareness and understanding of issues related to security and crime.
  • MI5 Security Advice - Guide to Physical Security - The Guide to physical security offers advice on performing a risk assessment of your home or business to determine what measures should be undertaken to protect against the risk of crime or terrorism with practical advice on reducing those risks.
  • Tim Hunkin - Illegal Engineering - There's something very satisfying about the simple ingenuity of safes and locks. It's also an area of engineering design that has not been transformed by science or maths, and to me illustrates intuitive aspect of the subject, which often now gets forgotten.

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