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.
Your basement could be better from a fire-protection standpoint; there's usually less down there to burn, Soos says.
But if your home is located in a flood-prone area, the safe might be at greater risk in the basement.
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.
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