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For example, safes rated to protect paper documents shouldn't get any hotter than 350 degrees on the inside during a fire, according to John Drengenberg, consumer safety director at UL in Northbrook, Ill.
If you plan to store old tape recordings or 35mm slides, however, you'll want a safe that's rated not to exceed 150 degrees inside, he says.
"Once they get their arms full," he adds, "they're out of there." A 1.2 or 1.3 cubic-foot safe probably weighs about 100 pounds empty, making it a less attractive target than jewelry, cameras, small electronics, and other more portable items a burglar might spot.
Many safes also come with bolt-down kits, a further deterrent to thieves in a hurry.
Your basement could be better from a fire-protection standpoint; there's usually less down there to burn, Soos says.
But if your home is located in a flood-prone area, the safe might be at greater risk in the basement.
Home safes might not be the best place for your precious jewelry, rare coins, or 1952 Mickey Mantle rookie card.
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Dale Soos, an engineer with Intertek, says his organization confers a "verified" mark on safes that meet their manufacturers' criteria for water resistance.
Some safes are submerged to simulate the effects of a flood or broken water line.
Where to put it The best place for your safe will depend on the design of your house, but there are some trade-offs worth considering.
The master bedroom tends to be the first stop for burglars, according to Mc Goey, so it might not be the ideal site for the safe.