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A fairly common home-safe capacity is 1.2 to 1.3 cubic feet, which should easily accommodate a foot-high stack of 8½- by 11-inch papers, for example.

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).

Here are some of the ways they evaluate them: Fire resistance Fire is the No. The National Fire Protection Association says that during an average lifetime, there's a one in four chance of experiencing a household fire large enough to warrant calling the fire department.

1 concern of most buyers, according to Greg Bonsib, director of brand management at Sentry Safe, a major manufacturer in Rochester, N. UL and Intertek rate fire-resistant safes in terms of what type of material they'll protect and how long they'll protect it.

"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.

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.

And the Insurance Information Institute points out that a home safe can be a good place to store an inventory of your possessions... Home safes might not be the best place for your precious jewelry, rare coins, or 1952 Mickey Mantle rookie card.For those kinds of treasures, a safe-deposit box at a bank probably offers more protection.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.

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