You’ve reached the point where you have enough of a nest egg to need serious protection for it. Congratulations. Sure, you could post a couple of reliable guards from a reputable protection firm to risk life and limb to assure that your cash is never at risk in any way. That seems a little over the top, not to mention expensive. Keeping it out of sight is enough to deter many. There are however other risks.
What are the best ways to protect cash from fire? Three strategies seem to work best. You can move it offsite to a location where someone else is responsible. You can keep it with you so that, in case of a fire, the money is never your top concern. Lastly, you can place it inside a fireproof container. There are multiple ways to achieve any of these options.
Do I Really Need to Worry About Fire
You don’t have to worry about anything. That’s exactly how most people handle emergency preparedness. Over half of all Americans have no plan in place at all for disasters. Meanwhile, back in reality, it’s a very good idea to consider the effect of various emergencies on your valuables.
As common as fires are, you might think more people would have a plan for them. What we should do and what happens are not always the same. Many homes still don’t even have smoke detectors in place, let alone a basic fire extinguisher. Sadly, even an experienced prepper can overlook or underestimate some dangers.
Make the Extra Effort
Fire can seem unlikely or alarmist to the uninformed. However, the reality is that it is incredibly common. In 2017 there were 1,319,500 fires in the US. You can bet that most were unexpected and plenty of cash burned up in those blazes. The losses were estimated at around 23 billion dollars. Not all of that was cash, property damage accounts for most of it. Never the less, a lot of money went away forever.
When considering fire safety, you may want to take things a step further. Look into clearing a firebreak around your home and any sheds or buildings you use. While you’re at it, go get a fire extinguisher. Prevention is always the first line of defense.
In No Particular Order
The list below are some useful ways to keep your cash fire safe. Nothing is a guarantee in this life. Regardless, taking steps to keep money from being swept away in the event of an emergency is part of good planning. Everyone has their own idea of what makes money ‘safe,’ so these are meant as a jumping off point, not an end-all-be-all solution.
- Digital Currency- Bitcoin, Etherium and other cryptocurrencies are gaining in popularity for good reason. While there are risks in converting hard cash like the dollar into this new form, there are also substantial benefits, including the fact that digital currency doesn’t burn. Understanding and investing in the ‘new’ monies isn’t as difficult as you might have been led to believe. At the very least, it’s an interesting option for getting some of your proverbial eggs out of the centralized basket you may be keeping them in.
- Traditional Bank- Perhaps this seems too obvious, or too risky. If the bank system does not collapse, having FDIC insured money will indeed protect you from fires. Even if the whole bank, or whole city burns, the money will be returned to you. You can also try out an offshore account in a more stable area. This is not a lot of use for TEOTWAKI but if your emergency is flooding or fire-related it will do.
- On Your Body- Ok, this won’t work for huge sums, but there is some merit in stashing your cash on your body. False bottom shoes can preserve some money. Sewn into the cuffs of your favorite pants or the lining of your coat is also a fairly safe bet. You are, however, less likely to lose your pants than your coat. Additionally, a coat lining is a lot further from potential water hazards like puddles. You can always split the difference and choose both.
- In The Car- Yes, having your car stolen is a common enough occurrence. It happens. In 2017 a house fire happened roughly once every 88 seconds, an outdoor fire every 51, and a structure, in general, every 63 seconds. That is a lot of fire every minute and a half. Car theft happened about once every 40 seconds. If you do the math that means your money is slightly safer in a car than it is from fire overall.
- A Safe- Mansions with creepy pictures on the mantle are not the only places you will find hame safes these days. You can get a fire and waterproof safe at a reasonable cost and use it to keep your paper money at home. Check the reviews of course, but plenty of safes work really well to prevent burning damage.
- Fireproof Bag- While your fireproof bag isn’t typically rated as high as a good safe, it will definitely protect your money from most normal situations. Double down and use a bag and a second method together for greater certainty. It never hurts to put in the extra effort if you’re seriously concerned.
- Bury It- You don’t have to be a pirate to know that dirt is fairly safe. From Columbian drug lords to your neighbor’s dog, most of us are aware of the preservative qualities of regular soil. Should you happen to live in the desert, sand is even better. Keep in mind, sand washes away more easily in a flood. In order to keep your cash from decomposing, you’ll want to put it in a good sealable plastic bag. Dig down at least a couple of feet. You can draw yourself a nice map, or maybe just dig somewhere you know you won’t forget.
- Toilet Tank- The tank at the back of your toilet is not the sort of place thieves or flames are terribly likely to get in to. For this method, you will need a good waterproof bag. You may also want a second and third waterproof bag. Be absolutely certain there are no leaks. Unlike the bowl, the tank water is always clean, and not usually visible.
- Freeze Those Assets- A freezer, especially a chest freezer that is not in your kitchen, can be a perfect place for cash. Most home fires begin in the kitchen so you want your freezer elsewhere. The insulation, temperature, and moisture are highly useful when it comes to avoiding fire damage. Be aware, this trick is pretty well known. Much like a cookie jar, thieves will probably check your freezer.
- Trade Up for Hard Assets- One of the easiest ways to keep your bucks from burning is to swap them out for something less flammable. Gold, silver, and gems don’t burn. Melted gold or silver is worth the same amount as it was in bar form. It may lose some value if it started the day as jewelry. Hard assets, like other emergency preparedness supplies, don’t depend on government backing for their value.
Whatever method, or combination of methods you choose for fire safety, it can still fail. Consider decentralizing your money. In other words, put it in different places. Having some in each gear cache is a great start. If you use a bank account, and most do, consider having a second savings account at a different bank. If you have a safe in your bedroom, put a fireproof bag in the garage or basement as well.
When it comes to covering your assets, most people immediately think of their money. Cash is king, as they say. Hopefully with these tips, a bit of motivation, and some ingenuity, you will be able to keep your money safe. Just remember, when SHTF you may find that a dollar is just dirty paper that someone else already drew on.
Are bank safe deposit boxes fireproof? Not necessarily. In fact they aren’t even insured for the contents. FDIC covers cash accounts only. Putting money in a bank safe deposit box is not illegal. It can however, get you in trouble if the bank or IRS suspects you have hidden assets in this manner. Better to avoid it altogether and not store the most important items, like cash, in a bank safe deposit box.
Can I just make my whole house fireproof? This is not really practical, or cost effective. It is technically possible to build with only fire retardant materials like stone. You’d still have to keep all possible sources of fire and anything flammable out of the house as well. This may work for a paranoid millionaire who lives near a volcano, but it’s not realistic for the rest of us.
What materials are fireproof? According to Wikipedia, there are two categories, building materials, and fabrics. Given the extent of those lists, a short answer won’t do. Consider options like kevlar and glass. Though, at a high enough temperature, even the chemical elements that make up our world can burn.