You need a safe, fire-resistant place to store documents in case of an emergency. You have heard about fireproof document bags but wonder if they really work and if they really exhibit fire resistance.
The simple answer is YES, fireproof bags really work.
Fireproof bags do work. But, as you would suspect, there are limits to what fireproof bags can achieve. Fire resistance can only take you so far.
While it’s not quite as effective as a fireproof safe, the average fireproof bag can protect your documents with fireproof materials.
What Are Fireproof Bags Designed To Do?
Fireproof bags are designed protection paper documents from direct flame or high heat. The covers or flaps of a fireproof bag will protect the contents from incidental exposure to water.
Fireproof document bags should survive limited exposure to the heat and flame of a fire, as well as fire fighting activities. They are lightweight for portability.
What Are Fireproof Bags Not Designed To Do?
Fireproof bags can not stand intense, direct flame for an extended period, as they are only fire-resistant. They can not protect against physical damage due to crushing.
While the materials used are very tough, the fireproof bags are not puncture-resistant. Most bags are not waterproof and will leak if submerged in water other liquids. If this is a concern for you, consider looking into a waterproof bag that is water-resistant.
Fireproof bags are not indestructible. Every model of fireproof bag has a temperature and time limit determined by its fireproof materials. The design and materials used contribute to the durability of a fireproof bag.
When shopping for a fireproof document bag, consider where you will store it and the fragility of the contents.
Every fireproof bag has different limits depending on the external temperature. Fireproof bags are rated to withstand 1700 to 2300 degrees Fahrenheit.
The shell of the bag will survive the rated external temperature. It is not an indicator of how hot the bag’s interior may get.
Manufacturer specifications generally give a time value in relation to temperature. For example, a bag may withstand 500 degrees Fahrenheit for 90 minutes.
The same bag may only withstand 1000 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.
If you’re looking for the best fireproof document bag, a bag with a high-temperature rating and a long duration value is preferable.
The components used to construct the bag will determine the protection level. Paper will combust at about 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures over 200 degrees Fahrenheit may severely damage a computer.
A bag that protects paper documents may not save an electronic device, so don’t expect to store your electronic devices, such as laptops, in a fire-resistant bag.
Bag specifications should indicate internal temperature ranges based on exposure temperature and duration.
What Are Fireproof Bags Made Of?
Most brands of fireproof bags are made of the same basic materials. Some manufacturers will use additional components to increase their bags’ durability and heat resistance.
Most fireproof bags are constructed of fiberglass fabric treated with silicone. Better bags have two or more layers of this fabric. Bags with higher temperature ratings may also have a layer of heat-reflecting foil.
This material can reflect heat away from the bag’s interior, thus reducing the impact on the contents in a fireproof bag by lowering the internal temperature.
Fireproof bags have Velcro or zipper closures. Better bags may have both. The combination helps make the bag more water-resistant. Since Velcro is a plastic material, it tends to melt if exposed to heat over 400 degrees.
Plastic zippers will also melt at higher temperatures. While melting does render a fireproof bag unusable, it may serve to seal the bag against water damage.
Bags are stitched together with fiberglass thread. The tread may be treated with silicone or another fire retardant. Most manufacturers will use a silicone-based material to seal the seams of a fireproof bag. The silicone may melt at extreme temperatures.
You can purchase a fireproof document bag in a variety of sizes. Small bags tend to be 8 x 5 inches and about 1 inch thick. They can be used to hold cash, small valuables, and documents that can be folded.
The most common bags hold standard-sized paper documents. These bags are 11 x 15 inches. Approximately 100 sheets of 8 1/2 x 11 paper will fit comfortably in such a bag. Briefcase-sized bags can hold laptops and several thousand paper documents.
Recommended Uses of Fireproof Bags
Independent testers and manufacturers agree that no bag is indestructible. A fireproof document bag will protect its contents from fire and heat. In an extreme fire, even the best bag may fail. Layers of protection are recommended.
A fireproof bag in a fireproof safe will provide the best protection in a severe fire. If a fireproof safe is not available, a smaller fireproof bag inside a briefcase-sized bag will provide multiple layers of defense.
Are Fireproof Bags Reusable
A fireproof bag that has survived a fire is not reusable. The silicone becomes dry and brittle. It is no longer fire-resistant. Velcro closures and plastic zippers melt. The plastic seal material on the seams melts.
Even if the bag appears unchanged, the materials have been compromised and will not perform as intended or give you the fire resistance you a looking for.
After most fireproof bags have survived a fire, it’s time for a fireproof bag replace.
A fireproof bag is an inexpensive way to protect valuables, and fireproof bags really work. A fireproof bag alone will protect your important documents and valuables in all but the worst fire.
They can also act as part of a fireproofing system by providing additional layers of protection. A fireproof bag is a good investment for protecting important documents and other valuables.