How to Protect Important Documents From a Fire?

Overall, fireproofing important documents is a good idea, irrespective of where you keep them. An important advantage of fireproofing documents is that it does not consume too much time, effort, or investment.

This way, even if a fire breaks out, one can instantly access original copies of important documents, such as passports and money.

List of ways to fireproof documents that we will be covering in more detail:

  1. Use a fireproof safe or cabinet: These specialized storage containers protect your documents and other valuable items from fire, water damage, and theft.
  2. Keep your documents in a cool, dry place: Humidity and high temperatures can make the paper more prone to ignition and increase the chances of fire spreading.
  3. Use fireproof envelopes or bags: These specialized envelopes and bags are made from materials that can withstand high temperatures and prevent your documents from being damaged by fire.
  4. Make digital copies of your important documents: By storing them on a secure, cloud-based platform, you can protect them from being lost or damaged in a fire.
  5. Create a home fire escape plan: Having a plan to safely evacuate your home in the event of a fire can help protect your family and your valuable documents.
  6. Install smoke detectors and fire extinguishers: These safety devices can help alert you to the presence of a fire and give you the tools you need to extinguish it before it spreads quickly.
  7. Use a fireproof document box: These boxes are made from materials that can withstand high temperatures and keep your documents safe in the event of a fire.
  8. Keep your documents away from heat sources: keep your documents and other valuable items away from heat sources, such as stoves, fireplaces, and heaters, to reduce the fire risk.
DocSafe Document Bag with Lock

Document safes protect documents against fire and theft

When we assess the most important ways of fireproofing documents, using a fireproof document safe is the first among them. It safeguards documents not just against fire but against theft as well.

Other important ways to fireproof documents are to maintain an online copy of them, rent a safe deposit box, or use a fire-resistant file holder.

Fire damage insurance is a potent safeguard against fire hazards

Overall, fire is an unlikely disaster that people often prefer not to dwell upon. But when safeguarding your assets against such natural disasters, it is better to invest in fire damage insurance for your home, which will provide peace of mind.

Similarly, storing your documents safely helps prepare you for such emergencies. One of the ways to go about it is to store your documents in a location that is safe and accessible. One should consider the most important documents. This may be the document you will want to keep with yourself if you are required to leave your home in case of a fire hazard. (1)

Once you have the list of the most important documents, we can start looking for the safest places to store them.

Under hazardous circumstances, such as a fire hazard, the requirement of important legal documents will be pronounced. One would want to make insurance claims, file police reports, and ensure business continuity. Fireproofing the document is a reasonable safeguard against additional hassle during testing times.

One of the ways of fireproofing documents is to use the services of a third-party vendor, such as a bank or a security deposit box services provider. But there are some ways of fireproofing and securing important documents at your home or workplace, such as a shop, showroom, workshop, or office. Let us take a look at them: (2)

1. Fireproof Bags

JUNDUN Fireproof Document Bags

Fireproof bags that look similar to an envelope are one of the best ways of storing identification documents, cash, and small-sized valuables. But such fireproof bags are small, and to store paper in them; you’d be required to fold them. Hence, it is fine to go for a folder-style bag to keep your paperwork. 

Folder-style bags that can hold 100 or 50 sheets of paper are easily available. In a few cases, they can store oversized documents comfortably as well.

A fireproof bag is made using superior materials, such as silicone-coated fiberglass and an aluminum foil lining, making it fire-resistant. They may be fire-resistant up to temperatures of 2500 F in some cases. 

2. A Fireproof Safe instead of a Fire Deposit Box

SentrySafe SFW123EU Fireproof Waterproof Safe

Investing in a fireproof safe for the home is a fine idea. This makes a feasible alternative to storing the documents in the bank. The access to important documents such as insurance papers and passports will then be instant. One will not have to rely on the bank opening. 

A homeowner should be meticulous regarding the fireproof safe he wants to go ahead with for storing his documentation. The safe chosen should correspond to the materials that he intends to store in the safe. For instance, storing paper and documentation requires a safe that can withstand temperatures of 350 F and more. Similarly, a fire-resistant safe rated at 150 F or more should suffice for storing internal hard drives.

For storing the items that you do not need to access frequently, storing them in a bank is a fine alternative.

3. Commercial Flame Retardants

Anderson's Black Flame Retardant Gossamer Fabric

Using commercial flame retardants is a relatively new method for fireproofing documents. A flame retardant may be classified as a chemical that either slows down the fire or prevents it from getting to the materials previously treated.

Paper and cardboard boxes that are untreated are generally highly flammable. Treating them with commercial flame retardants makes them less flammable.

Commercial flame retardants are safe to use on most paperboard materials and papers. They are odorless and colorless. Being water-based makes them soluble and easy to use.

4. Use Homemade Wax Coating

homemade wax coating

Documents can be fireproofed by coating them with wax. While wax does melt, it requires high temperatures to burn. To use this method, the first slice opens a candle lengthwise using a knife or hammer and removes the wick. Place the wax in a plastic bag and seal the bag. Use a hammer to grind the wax into small pieces. 

Now cover the ironing board with a soft towel. Place the wax pieces on parchment paper and fold the paper. Use a warm iron to melt the wax. 

Now open the parchment paper and place the document over which you want to apply the wax treatment. Fold the parchment paper away. Your document now has a fire-resistant coating. Dry your document by placing paper towels on either side. When you wax both sides of your documents, the fire resistance will be better.

Conclusion

With the tips mentioned above, your documents will have the best chances of surviving in case a hazard strikes.

But will paper money burn in a fireproof document safe?

Before you proceed, here’s the best fireproof document safe and the best fireproof document bag on the market this year.

References

(1) fire hazard – http://fire.nv.gov/uploadedfiles/firenvgov/content/bureaus/FST/2-ifipp-FHsm.pdf
(2) third-party vendor – https://securityscorecard.com/blog/what-is-a-third-party-vendor

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About John Fox

ebbb364ee14268bd3b77496cab3d1d78?s=90&d=mm&r=gCertifications: Certified Alarm Technician (CAT)
Education: Denver Security Academy
Lives In: Denver Colorado

John Fox has worked as a security consultant in Denver for over 20 years.
With Safe Now, he's taken those two decades of experience and decided to share it to help people online make the right security decisions for their businesses and families.

John writes security tips and guides, product recommendations, and prevention guides.

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