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Fireproof safes

I’ve been thinking about a simple prep that strikes me as essential: Fireproof safes or lockboxes to save documents, cash/jewelry and hard drives even when everything else is lost.

I also wonder how useful it would be to bolt such a safe to my car’s trunk and store my GHB/precious car supplies to avoid losing them to theft or fires. Cars being randomly burnt isn’t too uncommon an occurence in my country’s suburban areas…

Do you have any experience with fireproof safes, or even products you’d recommend ?

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  • Comments (7)

    • 3

      This is a great idea, I hope The Prepared can do a review of some fireproof safes in the future, because there are many out there that claim to be fireproof, but are not. I think this would involve testing and burning up some safes to really see which is the best though. Here is a video of some people trying some fireproof safes. If I had to buy a new one, I would definitely do some research and see if anyone has tested the model that you are planning on buying.

      I have two small fireproof safes. A First Alert waterproof model, and a Sentry Safe. They are pretty similar, and are quite heavy. It almost feels like they are filled with concrete. I would think that these would have a much higher chance of resisting a fire vs the ones they test in the video above.

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      I do keep my documents in gallon ziplock baggies, and portable hard drives in sandwich baggies. I do this to protect them if we have a flood, but the downside I think is that if there was a fire, the plastic would just melt around everything and be a pain to remove.

      My safes are not large enough to have a full sheet of paper in them, so I do have to fold everything in half. 

      My recommendation is to get your fireproof safe, but don’t make that the only copy of documents and hard drives/flash drives that you have. As you see in the video I listed above, the documents never look the same after they have been through a fire. So although it may protect them from being totally burned to ash, I recommend a nice high quality PDF scan that you can print off to be the most legible, but also be able to present the original.

      I would love to hear which model you end up getting and how you came about that decision. 

      • 2

        My thought process started when I considered my lack of backup. I won’t lose anything too life impacting if my hard drive goes under, but it will lose the equivalent of several months of work on personal projects.

        I first considered setting up a NAS (file server) for high capacity storage and automated backups, but then I asked myself what I would do in case of a home fire, which led me to look into fireproof safes.

        Space and convenience is an issue, and theft is lower down my priority list. I just need something I can store in a cupboard and carry upstairs on my own. I would pick something sturdier to store my GHB in my car’s trunk, though I have no idea how I would go about bolting it in place.

      • 1

        I personally have three+ layers of digital backups, each with their pros and cons.

        Level 1- This can be your NAS. This will make sure you have constant backups and access to all your files easily. This backup will be the most up-to-date, but will have the shortest lifespan (constantly running), and most prone to fire.

        Level 2- Hard drive in fireproof safe at home. This can be backed up weekly or monthly, so not as up-to-date as the NAS, but pretty good, will have a longer lifespan because it is just sitting in cold storage and is only ran every week or month, and is protected a bit against fire.

        Level 3- Encrypted Hard drive offsite at a family/friend’s house or safe deposit box. This one may only get updated every 6 months- a year, will have the longest lifespan because it only gets turned on every 6 months-year, and your house can burn down and there is no chance your backup at your family’s house would be damaged. And if your friend’s house burned up, you still have everything on your NAS and in your fireproof safe at home. Still, don’t pick your friend or family around the block from you, if a local disaster happened they probably will be affected too. Someone in another city or state would be best.

        Possible Level 4- Cloud storage. This is the safest against fire (your files are stored on multiple servers around the world), will never die (constant server upgrades), but know that you are putting your files in a company’s hands and many employees/the company have access to those files, and if they ever deleted your account you lose everything. And you usually have to pay a monthly/yearly fee to keep it going.

        My digital files are very important to me, that is why I have so much redundancy and backups. But I know that isn’t a priority to many. My family members have the only copy of their wedding photos on a dying laptop that they can barely boot up. I would die if that happened to me, but they are 100% good with it.

      • 1

        Very good thinking. I am definitely going to set up a NAS at some point, but as a second layer, mostly because of expense. A decent 5TB SSD and a portable fireproof safe would fetch a much lower price than my standard for a NAS (RAID 5 with good SSDs).

        I’m not sure I would use a level 3 comparable to yours. In the long run, I can see myself renting a complete server in a country with good data protection laws and setting up my own cloud (and VPN) that way however.

        I am going a bit off-topic here, but I would highly enjoy reading digital prepping articles about personal data safety, good Internet habits, VPNs (including TOR and rented servers managed by the end user) and password managers, to cite a few.

      • 1

        Yes ! Please do a safe review. I know this thread is about smaller mobile options, but I wish you would include larger safes in a review. I’m interested in modular safes that could be constructed onsite, so it’s easier to conceal in a closet, etc, rather than having a large, hard to move safe in the open for all to see. . There a modular safe company in Iowa, but was hoping to know of other, hopefully U.S. made, options.  

    • 1

      don’t be hoping for tooooo much security from those lock boxes – only takes a few hammer blows to take the top off the hinges ….

      make sure to lag them down – otherwise a crook will just take your safe full of useless paperwork hoping for a handgun or jewelry ….

      • 1

        Resisting a fire is by far my main factor. When I move to a bigger place I might get a full sized safe that no individual person can carry, but for now I just want something I can carry without help, that’s small enough to fit in a cupboard or on a shelf.

        I would look into something sturdier for my car, to prevent opportunistic theft of my get home bag. It probably wouldn’t resist a coordinated attempt, but at this point they could just bother to take my car someplace else. I’d bolt it down into the trunk somehow, to prevent theft and to avoid having a 40+kg piece of metal shifting around at the back of my car. Car fires can burn pretty hot though, I don’t know if any compact safe can meet my expectations.

    • 2

      There are two basic varieties of protection to consider.

      1) A “fireproof” document box.  These are typically inexpensive and relatively small, and thought most have some sort of locking mechanism, they’re designed for fire protection and not security.  You can find out how to defeat the lock on Youtube.

      2) A “safe”.  These are designed for security first and foremost, though many or most of them have some degree of fire protection as well.  They range from small and insecure boxes to bank vaults.

      I wouldn’t keep anything important in a car.  Not so much because your car is likely to catch fire, but because it’s far more likely to be broken into or stolen outright, and anyone that sees something like a safe is going to grab it if they can. When I was younger someone broke into my car in my own driveway, never left anything important in there again.

      My advice: Get as big a safe as you can afford for your home, and bolt it down to the floor.  If you have documents that you want to protect, either get a fire-lined safe or get a document box and put it inside the safe.  Keep digital copies of those documents on a USB drive in your BOB or in the cloud (or both).