Whether you are just getting started in precious metals investing or you have a treasure trove of gold, silver, diamonds and more, you need to have a plan to keep your investments secure.
While your first thought should be how to protect against burglars, you also need to consider other threats — such as fire.
The Dangers of Fire
In a really hot fire, your metals investments could melt into a messy sludge, with paper currency, documents, and plastics being the first to go.
The solution is a fire-resistant safe, or a fire-resistant box to place within your existing safe for those documents more sensitive to heat.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, a given family has a 1 in 4 chance of facing a fire large enough to be reported to the fire department, with an average of five fires in a person’s lifetime. A typical house fire will range between 900°F and 1,800°F, depending on the kind of fire and any factors, such as accelerants.
A wildfire, like those that have been scorching California, can reach average temperatures of 1,472°F and up to 2,192°F in extreme cases. Drought conditions and environmental changes have made wildfires increasingly likely.
Risk of Fire Damage
|Material||Melting Point||Survive a Fire?|
|Gold||1,948°F||Yes, house fires.|
|Silver||1,763°F||Yes, most house fires.|
|Air-Tites||212°F||No, melt easily.|
|Paper Currency||451°F ignition point;
instantly flammable if exposed to flame
|Plastic bags/boxes||266°F||No, melt easily.|
|Diamonds||Diamonds burn into graphite at 1,562°F||May survive.|
Human skin can’t survive past 162°F — so you should stay well away from any dangerous flames and trust that your valuables will be protected.
What to Consider
Fire-resistant safes will protect your valuables at temperatures up to 1,700°F, providing a great deal of security. Because of the composition of the steel, the exterior of the safe will take the heat and resist transferring that heat to your valuables inside.
How do you know if your safe will help in the event of a fire?
First, check the fire rating. A fire rating indicates the internal temperature a safe will maintain and for how long. For example, a Class 150 2 hr. safe will maintain an internal temperature of 150°F for up to two hours.
Second, think about placement. In order for your safe to be effective against thieves, you’ll want a safe that will be too heavy to move or that can be bolted to the floor.
You can also check the burglary rating of your safe. For example, a TL-15 rated safe can resist opening with common tools for at least 15 minutes.
Then, go shopping. Consider what you plan to store, the fire rating, burglary rating, and where you will place the safe as well as what you can afford. Note that a gun safe frequently won’t protect against fire.
If you have the opportunity — such as in a case of a wildfire — you may want to remove any valuables, but you should always place your life above the security of your assets. Having a fire-resistant safe will help you feel confident that your investments are truly secure.
Do you have a fire-resistant safe? What tips do you recommend?