Yes. But not all safes are created equal.

Installing a home safe is an excellent idea. Even better: Bolt it to the floor. Otherwise, thieves will simply pick it up and take it with them – because they don’t want to spend any more time in your house than necessary.

It’s also smart to select a safe that’s fireproof. But that word is deceiving – I recently read about a couple whose home burned down while they were away, and although they had a fireproof safe, all the papers inside it were destroyed anyway.

Why? They didn’t realize that the safe protected against heat of a certain level and for only two hours, and the fire burned for hotter and longer than that.

Indeed, there’s really no such thing as “fireproof.” Safes are more properly referred to as “fire resistant” – and manufacturers tell you how much heat the box can handle and how long it will protect its contents before failing.

In most cases, firefighters will extinguish flames within two hours. But sometimes they burn longer, and sometimes hotter, depending on nearby chemicals and other factors.

If you do suffer a fire, don’t open a safe for at least a week afterward. The safe’s interior needs time to cool down; if you open the door while it’s still hot, the surge of oxygen can trigger a flash fire, instantly destroying the contents and possibly injuring you.

As a financial advisor, I always say that reading the prospectus is important. So is reading the manual!

Copied from Edelman Financial Engines newsletter July, 2020

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