recommendation for home safe?

I’m planning to buy a small safe for my home. It will be used primarily to store important documents such as passports, social security cards, car title documents, and the like. I may also store some CDs or other media with backed-up computer data. I don’t expect that it will hold anything that’s particularly valuable, at least in monetary terms, so I’m not trying to keep the contents away from a determined or sophisticated thief. However, I would like the contents to be reasonably safe from casual theft, and from fires, floods, and other catastrophes.

Any advice on what I should look for? I’d appreciate either specific safe suggestions, or else some insight into what specifications the safe should meet.

Just to get the ball rolling, I was eyeing this model at Office Depot. Is that a reasonable choice? I’d spend a bit more than that if necessary, but I’d prefer to keep it under $250 or so.

Please note that the unit you’ve linked is not water resistant, which was one stated objective in your OP. The size is also of concern. At 86 pounds, one or two people won’t waste time trying to compromise it on site, hauling it off is simpler. Anchoring smaller safes is an option, so long as the water and fire resistance isn’t being compromised by method of securing.

Safes fall into two categories; they’re either fire-resistant or burglar-resistant. Very few are both. Note that I used “resistant” rather than “proof.” If you’re protecting data from fire, it’s much simpler to store the duplicates in a different building.

Good point about water resistance. As far as the weight, I’m really not trying to stop a thief determined enough to haul off the safe. If there was an easy way to prevent that, I might do it, but I’m not interested in having a too-heavy-to-move safe in my house.

True, but many of the documents I’m thinking of are documents where having the original is important.

Instead, think safety deposit box.


In my area in southern California, the police tell me that the average home burglary or robbery generally takes about 3 to 5 minutes from beginning to end. They usually hit the bedroom first.

I would suggest putting your safe in a room elsewhere in the house. Also, if you have your safe inserted into the ground, most thieves will not see it or have time to open it if they do.

Great idea in 99% of the cases. I wouldn’t keep my passport there, though. A small fire safe sounds like a pretty good idea for passports.

I learned this the hard way when my father in law in Rio passed away on one Veteran’s Day, many years ago – my wife had to get on the plane pronto, but the passports were in the safety deposit box. A call to the bank’s customer service line confirmed that there is absolutely no way of getting access to those documents on a holiday. As it turned out, the Brazilian consulate in NYC gave her a fancy “one-way pass” letter that allowed her entry, while letting her know quite plainly that it was her problem how to get back to the States (compounded by the Thanksgiving holiday closing the American consulate in Rio when she was ready to come back).