Recently, a reader wrote asking: “Is it safe to store coins in modern-day, small-to-medium-size home safes that are certified fire safe/waterproof/drop resistant to the various levels of protection?”
Interestingly enough, a similar question was asked by a participant in my recent preservation workshop at the 2014 Royal Canadian Numismatic Association convention.
The type of safe one buys is a serious consideration.
Two major types of safes are available: ones that are theft resistant and those that are fire resistant. When deciding between the two you need to consider your risks.
Ask yourself what is the highest risk to your collection — theft or fire. I have found that most collectors feel that theft is the bigger risk.
Readers are likely familiar with the Underwriters Laboratories rating found on safes.
For security safes, UL tests how long a safe can withstand a burglar.
In its laboratories, UL attacks a safe with a variety of tools commonly used by thieves to open a safe. These include high-speed drills with carbide tip bits, diamond grinding wheels, chisels, pry bars, hammers and saws.
As a result of its testing, UL determines the “Net Working Time” for each safe. This term reflects how long it takes to break into a safe. For example, a safe with a “TL 15” rating requires a net working time of 15 minutes, a “TL 30” rating 30 minutes, and so on.