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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.What they cost For about and up you can buy a fire chest, smaller than a safe but still large enough to hold a stack of documents.Safes in the range of 1.2 to 1.3 cubic feet cost about 0 to 0.Other safes can be concealed in a wall or anchored in a concrete floor.Water resistance Protection against water tends to be an added feature of home safes that are also fire- or theft-resistant.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.

And the Insurance Information Institute points out that a home safe can be a good place to store an inventory of your possessions...

"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.

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.

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