9 things NOT to store in your home safe

It is often debated how to chose a safe but not as much how to use it and what to avoid when you use your safe on a day to day basis. What are the dos and don’ts when it comes to home safes ?

When I had just bought my new safe, I was trying to use it to its best potential. Sometimes I hesitated : what shouldn’t I put in my safe ? Am I covered by insurance company if I put cash in my safe ? How can I safely remember the combination ?

1. Do NOT put your Safe Spare Key in your Safe

You must think I am joking. But unfortunately, keys are often stored inside their safes, especially in work environment. In an office, it is not uncommon for people responsible for a safe to be puzzled as to where to put the spare key. At home ? This seems unprofessional. A colleague ? This is out of question because YOU are responsible for the safe. Then, why not your boss ? This might be embarrassing, especially the moment when you will have to explain that you might lose the key. And storing the spare key is exactly the first thing to do when unpacking a safe : don’t wait until later to find a good hideout. In a completely other place is best : at home for an office safe, at your parent’s for your home safe, etc. If you can’t, just try hard and find a good hideout.

2. Do NOT put the Combination of the Safe

Or do not forget the code.
It is human. But a combination is like a spare key: the safe is not the place to put it. In other words, you will end up in an absurd loop if you have to remember the combination store in a safe you need that combination to open. Don’t laugh at me explaining it. Many professionals report having to open in emergency safes in those circumstances: key or combination stored inside.

So, how to deal with the combination then ? It is not recommended to use your children’s birthday for many reasons. Do not use the code of your credit card. Or your wedding date. Someone of your family or a burglar can guess it, try it or know it : it is called social engineering.

What I recommend is a simple trick that nobody can guess; something that takes just a bit of memory, not much. But knowing that, you will be good for all your secrets codes.

In your contacts, create a fake name (or two), a funny name as it will be easier to remember. Note down any phone number that comes to your mind. Make sure that the last 4 digits are the ones you need for your safe (or credit card, etc.) This contact will be among tens of other contacts. Nobody will guess.

Create a fake contact whose phone number will be made of one or several combinations you have to remember and hide.

With this advice, you will have both stored the combination safely and you will not be prone to forget it. Because if you rely only on your memory, you might be surprised. Even if you have a good and strong memory and you are proud of it, it might let you down in some circumstances: you are tired, you are ill, something bad has happened to you. In the unfortunate case of a passing in the family, it is not uncommon to lose one’s mind even slightly. In those important moments, losing control means not opening the safe, which might be necessary then.

3. Do Not put Safe Manual

You will surely find the manual there, because that is where it belongs. But remember if you encounter a problem :

  • how to use the combination lock,
  • how to change the batteries in case they die,
  • the factory code to reset the electronics or reprogram a code,
  • serial number and date to get parts,
  • general operating information that can be useful to you or a professional helping you.

If you ever struggle to open the safe and are failing at it, all the above information will prove to be crucial directly to you or anyone helping you on the phone or in person.

4. Do Not put Safe Invoice

The invoice as well will contain important information such as model and date of purchase. But more importantly, the invoice itself is required :

  • in case of a burglary to prove the quality of the safe to your insurance,
  • in the case of a fire, same thing,
  • after purchase, it is often a good idea to pass the invoice on to your insurance to get a better deal and a cheaper policy.

5. Do NOT put Cash, unless…

You might put cash in a safe because a burglar will not take it in a hurry. It is always better to secure your cash than to leave it in a drawer somewhere in your house, to hide it under towels in your laundry, or behind pasta boxes in your kitchen or store room.

If you use your safe, it will be less likely that your valuables are stolen. Further more, if someone opens or steals your safe itself, you will be able to prove it and will fill a complaint accordingly. In the case of cash, you will have no proof of the amount inside the safe and your insurance might not cover the loss at all. Just bear this in mind.

6. Do NOT put too Many Things inside

Sometimes a safe is two small and the temptation is to stuff it. Yes, we often buy a too small safe, not knowing we will make great use of it. Money, jewelry, papers, etc. take up all the space. Then, when the door is pushed, it is very hard to close it properly. Then, if a strong force is applied to close the door, that force will remain in the opposite direction once the door is closed.
It will push on the bolts of the lock preventing them to slide as they are intended to. If the door has a small motorized electric lock, it won’t have enough power to operate the bolts. The safe will remain closed and you might even fry the electric motor.
If the lock is traditional, you might think it is blocked and out of order as it will be really hard to turn the key.

Either way you will be in trouble.

The only way to open your safe again, is to push really firmly on the door when operating the lock. Then you might succeed. Once the safe opened, take out some of its content…

But if the motor is out of order, or if an item, a sheet of paper for example, is blocking the bolts, it will be very hard to open the safe (as it is designed not to be opened).

It it necessary to have a tidy safe.

Now that we know the objects not to store inside a safe, there are other things not to do with a safe ; here is the list.

7. Do NOT put an Electronic Safe in a Water Room

I think you have already understood it. It is not for a couple of days or weeks. A safe is here to stay for several years at best : this is why I give advices that I’ve learned myself. Electricity, that is, electronics and humidity don’t go well together. Corrosion will eventually develop on electronic cards, on batteries contacts and that will prevent the safe to operate. It might even remain closed. For a damp room always prefer a mechanical safe with a traditional key, or a mechanical combination. Be aware that damp rooms might include cellars, barns, anywhere you can feel moisture, not only laundry rooms, bathrooms.

8. Do NOT Forget to Anchor your Safe

Even if your safe is heavy, it can be taken away by a burglar. A crow bar will be of help. And if your safe is upstairs, a burglar can take advantage of it and throw it through a window. It will be downstairs quick enough, and if the safe is cheap, it will be found opened. Which leads to the last point.

9. Do NOT buy a Cheap Safe

This is the last thing NOT to do with a safe. This has been already debated but is worth exposing again. A cheap safe is of no interest : it won’t last long, it will be easily opened by a burglar (you won’t even believe me how easy it is), it won’t protect your valuables from a fire, and lastly … can be hard to be opened by yourself !


I have been passionate about locks and safes for so long; it is a family speciality since 1898. I hope I can share with you all the simple tips that can make the difference for your security. And that you'll buy the right products for your needs.

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