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Larger safes cost more, and accessories like drawers and shelves can add to the bill.
Where to buy one You can find home safes at such retailers as Home Depot, Lowe's, and Sears, as well as online at Amazon.com, among other sites.
But if you want to safeguard hard-to-replace items such as family photos, birth certificates, passports, and tax records while keeping them close at hand, a safe could be a relatively inexpensive solution.
A simple way to determine how large a safe you might need is to pile up everything you plan to put in it and measure.
Most home safes are designed to protect their contents from fire, theft, or both. We don't test safes here at Consumer Reports, but many are tested by independent organizations such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and Intertek (which uses the ETL mark).
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.