We all need to keep our valuable belongings safe and secure somehow, whether it be from burglary or fire. That’s why safes have long been used by individuals and businesses to keep everything, from important documents, paper currency, gold or other precious metals and more, safe and sound.
Modern safe technology has improved dramatically over time, making it one of the best ways to protect and preserve valuables. Nevertheless, even the best safes won’t do much good if they aren’t functioning properly or if proper precautions aren’t taken to protect them or their contents.
That’s why it’s worthwhile examining the different types of safe technology on the market today, and reviewing what makes a quality safe, how to install a safe, how to remove and relocate safes, and how to find a reputable locksmith near you that can help you with your safe.
What is a safe?
Most of us know what a safe is, but since they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and have all sorts of purposes, let’s examine their essential functions before describing them in detail.
A safe is any securable box that can be locked to protect its contents from unwanted events, which include some or all of those featured below:
- Theft or burglary
- Damage by fire
- Damage by water or dust
- Damage by impact
The size, shape, and material composition of safes can differ greatly depending on their intended location and function, and we will go into these differences further down the page.
Brief history of safes
The earliest known example of a safe can be dated back to Ancient Egypt, where Pharaoh Ramesses II employed a rudimentary (although quite costly and complex for its time) pin tumbler-style wooden lock on a wooden coffer.
During Roman times, thieves and bandits often made a prosperous living by robbing merchants and passers-by on the Empire’s wide-ranging road network. To cope with this problem, wooden lug-style locks and safes were developed, whereby notches in the lock system could be adjusted so that only the owner’s key could access the contents.
With innovations in metallurgy during the Industrial Revolution, the game had changed completely. Brothers Charles and Jeremiah Chubb of Wolverhampton, England developed a widely popularised burglar-resistant safe in 1835. Further developments in metal alloys and lock technology now provided safe developers and manufacturers with the ability to provide increasingly robust and secure safes.
Today’s safes have, in large part, remained similar to safes from the 19th century with one major exception - electronic technology and modern lock and key systems. Modern safes are increasingly going digital, with keypads, keyless entry and programmable withdrawals (cash-box technology) and they provide unparalleled security against not only burglary but nearly anything thrown at (or banged against) them.
Which types of safe are there?
While old safes may have been made of wood and then of cast iron and other rudimentary metals, modern safes are nowadays predominantly made of some form of steel alloy or of a robust plastic. The choice of material largely depends on the safe’s purpose. A fire-resistant home safe, for example, needs fire retardant materials inside to protect its contents in the event of a home fire.
Large bank vaults, conversely, need to be able to resist would-be bank robbers for long enough for the police to arrive on the scene, and thus need to be made of dense, high-quality steel.
In terms of lock technology, many different types of safe are available, depending on needs and preferences. Keypad entry, for example, is ideal since it’s a keyless entry system with passwords being programmable and thus alterable every few months or so.
Traditional key or rotary combination lock safes are amongst the most common even to this day, since they also provide supreme protection against burglary and the elements. These are common in hotel rooms, small businesses, and homes.
Lastly, some safes don’t quite look the way you’d expect. That book on the shelf? An inconspicuous floor panel or any ordinary object can be made into a safe, concealing its location and blending in with its surroundings. These canny safes provide an additional layer of security by being out of sight and therefore out of mind to thieves.
What to look for in a safe
Since safes differ so much in their make and manufacture, it stands to reason that they also differ greatly in terms of their quality. An unsafe safe is just that - an attractive way for thieves to quickly steal all of your valuables. There are a number of important traits, so ask the following questions in order to separate the wheat from the chaff:
- Is the product tested and approved by Sold Secure Approved Products (now under the purview of the Master Locksmiths Association)?
- Does the safe meet Secured by Design certification of the Official Police Security Initiative?
- Does the safe carry Underwriters Laboratories’ (UL) certification for sales?
- If so, can the safe keep its contents secure under the correct humidity and heat levels? UL classifies safes depending on their temperature and humidity thresholds (e.g. Class 125, Class 150, Class 350).
- Is the safe big enough for your needs?
- Can the safe be installed, removed, and relocated with ease, or is assistance required?
- Does the safe need to be hidden, i.e. where will the safe be located?
Since every safe differs in size and shape, so too does its installation. While most small residential safes are straightforward and require little more than a screwdriver and solid foundation (wall, floor) to affix to, many are bulky and require complex installation procedures for best effect.
When purchasing a safe, always enquire or read the instruction manual to determine if pre-drilled holes are already present on the safe’s bottom or rear, or if this will need to be done at a later stage.
If a safe is not secured and can be lifted by hand, thieves can do the same. That’s why it’s best to have your safe installed professionally to ensure that it’s secure and unattractive to burglars.
Safe removal and relocation
There are many reasons why you would want to consider getting help with removal or relocation of a safe. These include:
- Moving to a new flat or home
- Changing business locations
- Moving large, bulky safes within the same building
- Disposing of safes
For any of these reasons, safe removal and safe relocation can vary from simple to complex. If in doubt, contact a qualified locksmith near you to enquire about safe removal or relocation services.
In general, whenever a safe cannot be safely moved from one place to another without heavy machinery, or because it’s embedded in concrete or structural components such as load-bearing walls, locksmiths should be contacted to ensure their safe and efficient removal or relocation.
How locksmiths can help with safes
Reputable locksmiths in the United Kingdom provide a wide range of services related to safes. Whether you require secure safe installation, removal, or relocation services or you are having problems with your lock or key system, locksmiths can help you move or access the safe’s contents once again.
Locksmiths are required whenever safes need to be moved with specialist equipment such as trolleys or cranes (for instance, removing a safe through a window). They can also provide expert solutions for hidden safes, particularly those located in floorboards or within concrete foundations.
Lastly, locksmiths should be contacted whenever the safe’s lock system is faulty, whether it’s digital or mechanical. Reprogramming, calibrating, and key copying services are all within the remit of a qualified locksmith.
Safes are amongst the most reliable means of securing your most precious valuables, so it stands to reason that they should always be functional and of sufficient calibre to resist any attempts to access them by unwanted visitors.
Whether you require a new (or copied) set of secure keys, safe installation, removal, relocation, or any other service for your safe at home or at your place of business, Rated Locksmiths puts you in contact with a reliable marketplace of qualified locksmiths within your postcode.