Are all safes the same?

Jeremy Cassady, Managing Director at Securikey, discusses some of the distinguishing features of a safe that will offer customers and users enhanced levels of security for their possessions.

Buying a safe can be an especially daunting purchase for not just a first time buyer, but a seasoned buyer as well. As well as your requirements of budget and space availability, a number of other factors which affect users need to be kept in mind when making this very important purchase. Buying the incorrect safe can negatively impact you in the short run by being difficult to install and can in the long run, for a user, can result in loss of cash, valuable items and irreplaceable documents such as passports, birth certificates, wills and insurance papers. To help you, here is a clear and concise list of important features to look for in a safe depending on your requirements.

Fire proof security

Safes are always used to store precious items. Some users may wish to store away important documents while others will be more interested in storing things like jewellery, family heirlooms or even photographs which hold special emotional value. Though all safes may provide a degree of security, not all safes guarantee users protection against elements like fire which can destroy items inside. That is why it is important to source a safe which offers at least a basic level of security against the threat of fire. Most renowned brands will ensure that they either offer heavy duty models able to withstand temperatures of up to 950°C for an hour, which meet European legislation standards and are clearly labelled to show proof that they have been independently tested and certified to meet the stringent criteria stated, or safes which benefit from a doubled wall construction with a fire resistant barrier material to DIN 4102 to offer users fire protection.

Anchoring the safe

Safes are ideally fitted in places that restrict access to the sides and top while ensuring that the door can be easily opened when required by the authorised user. Some safes only provide two basic fixings to anchor a safe to a wall or floor, but safes with four fixings ensure greater security by providing a tight grip against a wide variety of materials that the safe’s surroundings may consist of. Good quality safes should also provide commonly used complementary anchor fixings that are perfectly tailored to their safes. With today’s building types it is vital to get a sound fixing as walls are often only studded constructions and using the maximum amount of support is preferred.

Being the master of your own lock

One of the most important aspects to keep in mind is the locking system of a safe. All safes are fitted with a key-lock as standard, a mechanical combination or a more advanced digital locking system. The electronic digital lock works by allowing users to select a unique code to lock and unlock their safes. This offers users extra security against thieves, but can sometimes pose a hurdle for the users themselves. A common problem faced by many users is misplacing or forgetting their unique pin number; this can be overridden with a predetermined master code. As an industry standard, most companies have a series of set master codes that are used to override locks. For security enhancement purposes end users can change these codes, but are often unaware of it. Hence, there clearly is a potential to risk the
security of these safes, should those unchanged standard set codes get into the wrong hands. Companies now are paying heed to this issue and coming up with suitable solutions.

Better certified than sorry

Though all safes are fitted with some kind of a lock on them, it is important to note that not all those locks are up to the job. By ensuring that a safe has a lock which has EN 1300 Certification and the safe has an AIS Approval, you can be assured it is of a good quality.

As a further measure of the quality of a safe, look for those that are accredited under the Secured by Design scheme. Secured by Design is a group of national police projects which acknowledges the quality security of products and crime prevention projects. They support the principles of ‘designing out crime’ through physical security and processes. An additional seal of approval from Secured by Design means that a safe has been tested to security standards in response to trends in crime.

Another important consideration is to look at the testing a safe goes through. To assure users of their credibility some manufacturers choose to take part in random annual testing of their safes instead of only planned for testing. This ensures that the quality of every safe that they produce meets rigorous quality standards, and this is highlighted by products bearing all correct testing and warranty badges.

Walls of steel

One of the most basic yet fundamental features of a safe is the walls. The material that a safe has been constructed with greatly changes the level of security that it is going to provide for a user. To cut costs so that a safe can be offered for a lower price in the market, some manufacturers offer safes constructed with thin, subpar materials which are folded to look thicker. These materials may look strong, but provide thieves with an easy way into safes. You need to check that any safe that you buy has an 8mm steel door at the very least and at the bare minimum either a 4mm or a 6mm double-sided steel body to ensure that it will be able to provide a superior level of security when installed.

There are no hard and fast rules as to which features a buyer needs to focus on the most, but they should all be kept in mind according to your unique requirements when making this decision.

By Jeremy Cassady, Managing Director at Securikey