Safes - What are they?
The word "Safe" is a terminology or descriptive word very liberally applied to items which would be better described as "tin boxes", petty cash boxes, and steel containers, right through to what is actually "a real Safe". Sadly many people buy a "tin box" described as a Safe, only to find out too late that it can be opened in less than 30 seconds by "the Bad Boys" and then their valuable items and/or hard-earned cash is gone forever.
There are three different types of Safes to consider.
Used to protect paper documents or materials in the event of a fire, for the time specified by the manufacturer and verified by a Laboratory Rating. These safes may give limited attack resistance in the event of a burglary.
Used to protect computer media, such as CD's, Backup Drives and the like, in the event of a fire for the time specified by the manufacturer and verified by a Laboratory Rating. These safes give limited attack resistance in the event of a burglary.
Specifically designed to with-stand sustained attack in the event of a burglary. A Safe's resistance to attack is measured by a grading system. The harder it is and the longer it takes to successfully gain access to a Safe, the higher the grade given. Grading is achieved via an independent laboratory whereby the Safe is tested to a standard. In New Zealand and Australia the standard is AS/NZS 3809.
When considering the purchase of a safe one should consider the following:
- The dollar value of the items to be placed in the Safe;
- The sentimental value of items such as family heirlooms;
- What a loss by theft would mean to you, your family, or your business;
- What are you trying to protect the items from - fire or theft?
- Should I talk to my insurer? Whether you have an Insurance Broker, or work directly with your Insurance Company, if you are serious about protecting your possessions you should check with them before looking and/or buying a Safe to ensure you will be covered when you finally purchase and install.
- Where you locate the Safe, whether it is bolted down and what to, and whether you have a monitored alarm are all important factors to be considered.
- Should the Safe be bolted down? Yes it should, either to a concrete floor, a joist in a wooden floor, or where necessary a specially made shelf or support.
- Where should I locate it? You should place it in a location that allows for easy daily use. It may be an office, a wardrobe, or a hall cupboard but it is important that you can use it as you would any other item of furniture. If you don't, then it is too easy to leave valuable items out and insecure which can only lead to loss if the worst case scenario happens.
- How do I install it? There are only one or two of our products that you may be able to pick up and install yourself. We do recommend the services of our specialist installers to ensure the Safe is positioned correctly, and bolted securely in a location that is appropriate for its use. It may be an office, a wardrobe, or a hall cupboard but it is important that you can use it as you would any other item of furniture.
- What is a Cash Rating? This should be a dollar value that has been agreed with the Insurance Company, Security Specialists, and the Manufacturer that has considered the Safe's design, the Grade, the Standard, its size and weight, and the locking criteria. Cash Ratings are based upon your chosen Safe being bolted down. In special circumstances the Insurer will also consider the location, the alarm system, and other electronic measures that may be fitted to the Safe to enhance protection and increase the Cash Rating for your requirement. The Cash Rating allows for the "overnight" storage of the value, and as a "rule of thumb" is normally doubled for the value of items like jewellery; i.e. a $50,000 Cash Rating is good for $100,000 of jewellery.
- Does a Security Safe protect against a fire?Yes, it will provide a degree of Fire "Resistance", simply because the barrier material in the Safe's walls and door will take time to heat up before transferring temperature from the outside to the inside. BUT, unless the Safe has a dual test Certificate, there is no "Peace of Mind" that the Security Rated Safe will protect your valuable documents against a serious fire. A Test Certificate proving that it has been tested by a laboratory under a Fire standard should be affixed to the Safe.
- How do I lock my Safe? There are three options as follows;
- Key lock (KL): Simple, generally trouble-free as long as you don't lose the key!
- Keyless Combination Lock (KCL) or Dial Lock: Three wheel or four wheel option, traditional, steady hand and good eyesight required to operate, generally trouble-free with good yearly maintenance.
- Digital Lock (DL): The modern electronic lock has become the "norm" for most people. With easy to use keypads, locking and audit options with the higher specified models, as long as the lock and keypad are not maltreated, and the battery is replaced regularly, the DL is the current standard. BUT, as they are electronic (and therefore like any other electronic item) they do not last forever. In a heavy use business environment we would recommend replacement between 5 and 7 years, and in a private situation between 7 and 10 years. Should any intermittent problem occur before this with either the lock or the keypad we would recommend replacement immediately. A locked out Safe is very expensive because of the time involved to open, the repair to the Safe, and in the worst case the possible replacement required.
- Does a Safe need Servicing? Yes. On a well constructed Safe, there are moving parts (e.g. hinges, handles and bolt work) that need cleaning and lubricating with specific products, and the locking mechanisms often loosen with use and require realignment and tightening. A business Safe should be serviced at least annually and a private Safe every two years. If a Safe is not serviced and "locks out", it can be a very expensive job to open and repair.
- How should I use the Safe? Your Safe should always remain locked except when actually depositing or removing items. NEVER leave it closed but unlocked during the day, especially in a work environment when staff deem they are too busy to properly re-lock the Safe. It is only as secure as your control over keys or user codes. NEVER leave keys in your "top drawer" or other easy to find locations, and NEVER write combination codes on the wall or pad next to the Safe. Change keys or codes when staff leave, or if you suspect an unauthorised person has a key or code. In a retail environment it is worth considering a Deposit Slot or Deposit Drawer model. This enables cash to be skimmed out of tills during the working shift and dropped in to the Safe without opening the main door.
- Where should I position the Safe? In a business the Safe should be either in a location where staff can use it easily as part of good business practice in a "front of house" location, or in a secure office where money may be counted and prepared for banking before locking it in the Safe. In a home you should locate it where you can use it just as you would a drawer or cupboard, preferably against an internal wall under the beam of a monitored alarm, and of course bolted down.
- What is AS/NZS3809?AS/NZS 3809:1998 Safes and strongrooms, a Joint Australian/New Zealand Standard, Specifies performance requirements and procedures for testing secure storage units of the type intended for use in commercial, industrial, mercantile, financial and insurance institutions, and the like, and that are relied upon to protect the contents from intrusion and forced removal. The secure storage units include free-standing safes, built-in safes (floor and wall), strongroom doors and strongrooms (with or without a door). This Standard excludes electronic packages (other than electronic locks) and other devices that may be attached to the secure storage unit or vault. These requirements are intended to establish the resistance to forced removal and intrusion resistant rating of secure storage units according to attack by prescribed tools. This Standard does not cover tests for fire resistance."