Thursday, April 19, 2012

Evaluating the Need for a Safe

                  A lot of people who are interested in preparedness ask about whether they should have a safe, and if so, what kind they might consider.   Again, as with most aspects of preparedness, this depends upon your family configuration, your location, what you need to protect, how much space you have, and why you might need to protect it.

This is designed for handguns, magazines, and ammunition. It can be hidden in a closet, or anchored there with screws or a metal cord.  Remember that your handgun must be quickly accessible, but only to you, and not to criminals or your children.
It's best nor to store valuables with ammunition.
                   The first aspect of having a safe of some kind, is that someone besides you needs to know it is there. Fairly often, during home demolitions, the location of a hidden safe or strong box is discovered.  These are almost always completely unknown to the family members who authorized the demolition at that location.  Sometimes, they are filled with family papers or a Will, sometimes jewelry, sometimes coins, sometimes old firearms, and occasionally, small family momentos.   Most of the time,a reputable demolition company will stop their work until the family members are notified and the contents of the strong box or safe are returned to them.  A friend of mine recycles antique and vintage features from old homes through painstaking progressive demolition, and he says that the finding of a safe of some kind, that present family members knew nothing about is fairly common.  So, first, you must assess whether you will be in your home long enough to warrant a permanent safe or strongbox anchored into its floor or wall.   Second, if you choose to place one in a hidden manner, make sure that you not only tell a family member, but that there is notation somewhere in your file, a note with your Will, a double-bagged set of directions sitting in the back of your freezer. telling about the location your safe, and how to get in to it.   Many times, when someone dies, especially unexpectedly, no one knows where anything is, and valuables of many kinds are forgotten and lost to the family.

This nanovault gun safe is not only inexpensive, but comes either with a couple of keys or with a combination lock. It can be anchored in your car, in your closet at home, or be used for travel, either for general valuables, or for your firearm should you be traveling domestically.  Nanovault makes an entire line of these, available at sporting gear shops, gun shops, Ebay, Amazon, or on the internet.  This could ultimately be broken in to, but it's value is that it can be moved around.

Most people have one of these. These are not generally anchored, and may or may not survive a fire which takes everything. 

This is also a variety of fireproof safe.  This one is fire-resistant, but not fire safe as a Liberty Safe or many of the large variety would more likely be.

               Secondly, what do you wish to protect ?   If you have twenty thousand dollars worth of gold coins and a ton of bearer bonds, then invest in a safe deposit box, and place several family members names on it, as insurance.  This way, SOMEONE will be able to access it, and it will not be lost to the state upon your passing. This also happens more often than it should.     If you have birth certificates, passports, paid off mortgage papers, etc. you could keep these in a safe deposit box, or you could place these in a fire safe in the safest area of your home.  Many fire safes can be anchored to the home, so thieves don't have too easy a time taking something they feel might be valuable.  I have a friend who has a fire hardened double fire cabinet that she keeps her tax papers, personal documents and likely, a few valuables in.  It looks like a regular piece of furniture, but below it, is a heavy fire hardened double file cabinet.  Once again, her husband and eldest daughter know about this file, and have directions for accessing it.   Ebay sellers also occasionally sells a metal cabinet which looks an awful lot like a breaker box which you can hire someone to install in a hidden area of your home.  These are often lockable, and can house valuables on their way to the safe deposit box.   In Russia, some hotels have hidden safes in the closets of rooms.  You could hide yours anywhere in your home, just remember it is there.
This is a concealment safe for a full sized handgun.  Many common home objects can be turned into concealment safes for the home.  Keep in mind, this should not be how you conceal your weapon if you have children living or visiting your home. This particular one is only $55. before postage.  (Item available on:

This is a Homak, between the studs, wall safe.  It is designed to be hidden as a long gun safe, but you could store valuables in it. It is $149. with free shipping from this source.   

This is a Cobalt floor safe. Remember that you can spend a fair bit, and that this one would almost certainly require professional installation.  ( )

             Suppose you wish to protect more items or larger items than will fit in a strongbox, a document firesafe, or even a file cabinet.  Then, you need a safe.   Do not rule out the possibility of buying and installing a used safe from a safe company.   Many businesses upgrade their safes, and this leaves a fairly strong market of lower priced high security safes.   Some safes are large and heavy enough to sit in a bedroom with a lovely small tablecloth over them with a vase on top, and not be secured to the home otherwise.  Other safes are designed to be anchored to the floor, or to be secured in the floor under a rug.
              If you have a lot of stuff to protect, including rifles and ammunition, you might just need a tall safe, or even two.   One could be reserved for firearms and ammunition, and another for papers and other valuables.  At one time, only the wealthy could invest in a large freestanding safe.  Now, Liberty Safes and others sell fine safes which are reasonable enough that many people may have one.  These can also be hidden by placing a tablecloth over them, or hiding them in a dry but unusual place in your home.  One friend keeps his in the family room at the end of a game closet.  It looks like a room for his kids, but it also houses valuables.

The Liberty safe line is an excellent product.   From the website, these are American made.    Lowes, the hardware store, also sells a cheaper line of a Chinese made Liberty safe for those who could not afford the American line.  

This is the Liberty Centurion series which I mentioned above.  It is assembled off shore and can be purchased either through Liberty or from Lowes or some other retailers.  It is available with either an electronic lock or a conventional dial.

         Again, I can provide you with ideas, but you must assess your own needs, what you need to protect, and in an emergency what you could remove quickly.   The larger Liberty safes have the advantage that they are both robbery resistant and fire resistant.  You could leave your home with family rapidly in an emergency, and then return, even if your home were destroyed, to empty your safe.

Liberty also sells vault doors.  This makes a hardened saferoom possible for you and a local contractor. I think I would hide mine though.
Data on Liberty Safe fire protection:

        Be careful about who you select to deliver and install your safe. There is a film called "This is Not a Test" (2008) in which a male prepper has a local company deliver his safe.  They wait long enough for him to fill it with goodies and coins, before they are back one night, while he is there, to steal it.  Safe companies are bonded, and Liberty Safe is likely a good choice for delivery, but be careful who you choose.


Ruby said...

If it is for preparedness, then a safe is truly needed. We might feel safest at home, but we know we cannot protect every property in case something occurs, especially the most valuable, yet most sensitive documents. Ruby@Williams Data Management

Unknown said...

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