Do fireproof bags really work? If you take a moment to think about it objectively, it turns out to be quite a big claim.
I mean, fires are hot right, really hot! It’s no small task to make something resistant to a couple of seconds of intense fire – let alone up to 30 minutes of fireproofing. What material do you use? How hot does it get inside the bag? How long can it be in the fire? What happens when the fire hoses spray everything with water?
These are just a few of the questions that need to be answered – and that’s what we’re going to cover in this quick guide. We’re going to cover what makes fireproof bags work, the nature of the fires they’re protected against, and some other things you need to know.
By the end of the guide, I want you to be able to answer the “Do fireproof bags really work?” question with confidence and ease.
With all that said, let’s get into the guide! Also, you can check out the best fireproof document bag for outstanding protection.
What are Fireproof Bags?
We first need to know exactly what they are before we can look at how they work. Fireproof bags use special fire and heat resistant material, both internally and externally, to protect the contents of the bag for a limited time.
Not only is time-limited, but the maximum temperature the bag can survive in is also a factor.
There Are a Few Different Types of Fireproof Bags and Cases, Here Are a Few Examples:
- Shoulder bags Fireproof
- Safes Fireproof
- Backpacks Fireproof
- Document folders Fireproof
These are just a couple of options on the market. They all have different properties and material builds. They’re ideal for different purposes and uses, and all have different levels of resistance.
Fireproof bags can store important documents, expensive jewelry, special photos, passports and much more.
What You Need to Know About the Bags
This is the first and most important aspect of a fireproof bag. You need to make sure that you know what the fireproof bag is made of before you buy it.
If a bag uses the wrong materials, its entire purpose is voided. Not all fireproof bags are created equal, and some materials are better than others.
Material make-up also has one of the biggest impacts on the overall cost of the bag.
What is the Best Material for Fireproof Bags?
This is perhaps the most important factor to think about when you’re trying to answer the “Do fireproof document bags work?” question.
The best fireproof bags are made from fiberglass. Fiberglass is one of the best materials for insulation.
Here Are Some Other Benefits to Using Fiberglass:
- Flexible and easy to mold
- Very strong
- Highly durable
- Easy and cheap to get your hands on
Fiberglass alone isn’t enough though. It’s very porous and brittle and heated to very high temperatures. This is where silicone comes in. Silicone is used to coat the fiberglass and cover-up its main weaknesses. Here’s why silicone is added to the build:
- Eliminates the itching effect you get from touching fiberglass
- Improves the longevity and durability of the bag
- Adds to the water resistance.
They work exquisitely well together, making the bags flexible (to an extent), water-resistant and very durable.
What about the Internal Temperature of the Bag?
This question is relevant to you if you’ve ever wondered how to protect important documents from fire.
There’s no point in fussing over protecting the outside of the bag, only to have the contents damaged. Imagine the inside of the bag is like an oven.
Steps have to be taken to stop the temperature inside the bag from getting too high. Most bags are designed to make sure that the temperature doesn’t go above 350-degrees Fahrenheit. Some bags keep the temperature even lower than this, but they’re significantly more expensive.
This is also the reason why they have fireproof survival time limits. The bag will gradually get hotter inside until eventually, all the documents and contents are damaged or destroyed.
What External Temperatures Can They Survive In?
This varies a lot as you can’t accurately predict how hot a fire is going to be in a particular spot. All fireproof bags are resistant up to a temperature threshold. Anything hotter than that will damage the bag and its contents.
If you want to learn more about the temperatures of different types of fires and heat-sources, here’s an excellent article for you about external temperatures.
You should always try to keep your bag in a place that is more or less sheltered from a fire. Try to find a place that’s also quick and easy to reach. It’s best to find a balanced spot that offers you a bit of both.
Does it Matter What You Put inside the Bag?
Yes, it matters. If you’re going to put hard drives, flash drives, CDs, and DVDs in the bag, the temperature threshold is lower.
SO, If you’re just storing papers and documents, then you’ll need a bag that stays under 350-degrees inside. If you’re storing drives and CDs (and DVDs) then you’re going to need one of the bags that stay under 125-degrees.
This is because digital files and magnetic strips are more fragile and easy to damage at high temperatures. Keep this in mind when you’re deciding which bag is right for you. The manufacturer usually makes it very clear whether or not you can store drives and discs.
Can a Fireproof Bag be reused?
Do fireproof safes really work? Can I use them more than once? Does the same apply to bags?
Yes, but not all of them. The ones that can be used again are quite a bit more expensive. There’s a risk in using a fireproof bag more than once – especially the hard-bodied ones. They can develop tiny cracks in the outer casing. These small cracks make it far less likely to work a second time.
This isn’t always the case, and you’ll need to make sure that it’s thoroughly inspected before using it again. It’s an important part of the “Do fireproof bags really work” question – and something that you need to make sure you know with confidence.
How Are You Going to Use the Bag?
This is an important question when you’re choosing how to protect important documents from fire.
If you’re looking for something that can be used on-the-go, then it generally needs to be lightweight, easy to carry, and flexible.
You don’t want to be carrying a box safe around with you. You’ll need to consider the handle and the quality of the shoulder strap.
If you just need a safe that won’t be moved around often, then you can get something that has more space and a heavier build. Bear in mind that the more flexible bags and cases are less durable and protective than the hard-body safes and cases.
There is a balance between portability and safety that you’ll need to decide on. Both have their pros and cons, so it’s ultimately up to you. The carry bags and cases often use zippers – and this means they’re less resistant to fire and water (or at least for a shorter time).
Do You Need Waterproofing?
This is often overlooked. You’ll need water resistance for your fireproof bags to keep the contents safe when water is used to douse the flames.
The bags aren’t designed to go underwater, but they’ll keep their contents safe from high-pressure water spraying and sprinklers. Water-resistance isn’t the same across the board, so you’ll need to decide what level you need, and how much you’re willing to pay.
The Answer: Yes, They Work! But to an Extent
There’s no doubt that these fireproof bags work. This can’t be generalized to all of the bags on the market.
Just remember that you get what you pay for. If you’re going to skimp on the initial purchase, you’re more likely to pay a higher price later on.
There are no fireproof bags on the market (within a normal person’s budget) that can give you total and timeless protection against all types and extents of fires.
Some Limits Have to Be Considered. Here’S What They Are:
- Temperature limit – this depends on the model and varies wildly depending on how much you’re willing to pay. The temperatures they can handle generally vary from 1000-degrees Fahrenheit up to, and over, 2500 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Time limit – each fireproof bag dictates the amount of time that it can survive at its maximum temperature resistance. Any length of time beyond this point and the bag will lose its integrity and put the contents more at risk.
- Limited water resistance – many bags have waterproofing. This isn’t always the case, and many bags on have limited waterproofing. They’ll let you know whether the waterproofing allows for the bag to be submerged or not.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what’s more important to you, and which bags cater to your needs. What works for you, might very well be the worst choice for me. Take what you’ve learned here today, and use it as a checklist along with your list of needs.
You should be confident in answering the “Do fireproof bags really work?” question – all that’s left is for you to make your decision!