The first you want to ask in buying a safe for your home is how thick the steel in the body is, if the steel is thinner than 10 gage (1/8″) Thick then it will offer very little protection against a burglary attack on the body. Secondly you want to make sure that you have at least a 1/4″ thick solid steel door with Rockwell 60 hard plate or better and a spring loaded secondary relock device. These two items together will create a good entry level burglary safe. If the parameters are any lower than what we mentioned there is a good chance the safe is just a fire safe and should only be used to protect non valuable items from fire. It is very important when you purchase a safe less than 1000LBS to bolt or secure it to the floor or wall so that it can’t be removed easily (really almost all safes should be secured). There are a couple of very important things to remember in this regard. One is that if someone was able to move the safe in someone can move it out just as easily if it isn’t secured to the floor. Secondly if someone finds your safe they are going to think that everything you own that is of value is located inside that safe, and they are going to try and take it or get into it. This brings me to the next suggestion for you; first, always put the safe in a location where it will be convenient for you to use, if it isn’t convenient and you don’t put your valuables in it then it does no good having it. I have heard a lot of people get advice not to put it in their master bedroom closet because it is the first place a burglar will look. Well my opinion on that is if you buy the proper safe and have a professional properly secure it, then you should put it where you will use it first and let the safe do the job of protecting your valuables that you bought it for. Remember unless you are looking for just a fire safe to keep non valuable items safe from fire, then you are going to want a safe that will do the job if attacked by a burglar.
When looking for just a fire safe there are several things you need to remember. First you are over 3.5 times more likely to have a burglary than a fire so your first concern should be to understand that if you are going to secure valuable items in your safe you should be more concerned with the burglary level than the fire level. But if you are looking to just store non valuable items and protect them from fire then you will need to understand that the average single family home fire in US cities only lasts for about 30 minutes on a complete burn down with the highest temperature being around 1200 degrees Fahrenheit. Now there are several things to factor in; the first is are you located in a community where the fire department has a fast response time or are you in a rural setting? If you are in a rural setting and you have a forest fire threat, well then my recommendation to you is to install a safe into your concrete floor for all your most valuable items, because it is most likely going to be the only safe other than a concrete vault room that will probably hold up in that type of fire. I am sure most of us have seen on the news the aftermath of a forest fire that burned down a house and the only thing left is the concrete slab and the brick fireplace, forest fires can burn at up to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. But if you are in a normal residential neighborhood in a single family home you should look for a fire safe that can offer at least 30 minutes of fire protection and at least 1200 degrees. If you are in an apartment or high rise condo you will need to see if you have sprinklers, if you do you should be fine with the same parameters as a single family home. If you don’t have sprinklers then I would recommend going for at least a 1 hour fire rating and look for the UL class 350 1 hour fire label or equivalent on the safe