Like most people, you probably have your seed at home.
Because why not, it's your home. It's the place you always come back to and feel most safe. So, why shouldn't your seed be safe as well.
But every once in awhile, you think of the unimaginable happening.
So what are the chances of my house actually burning down?
The chances of your house burning down are dependent on a variety of factors.
Those who take part in high fire risk activities (e.g. fireworks, playing with fire, etc.), practice unsafe cooking practice (e.g. throwing water in hot oil, leaving the stove on, etc.), or are prone to unintentional carelessness (Unintentional, carelessness was the leading cause of residential building fire loss between 2010 - 2019) are obviously more at risk.
But there are other factors as well such as:
- Home fire safety prevention: having a fire extinguisher, sprinkler system, working fire detectors, fire resistant building practices/protection, up to date electrical standards, etc.
- Location: dry/wet climates, proximity to a fire station
- Fuel load: the total combustible content (furniture, items, building materials, space, etc)
What are the statistics?
Between 2014 - 2018, there was an estimated average of 353,100 home structure fires per year. Cooking was the leading cause of home fires. Electrical distribution and lighting equipment was the leading cause of home fires that lead to property damage.
Unsurprisingly, the leading areas of origin for the house fire was the kitchen (where most cooking occurs)
But note that the bedroom was a close second in terms of property damage which isn't surprising as many valuables are stored in the bedroom and its where most of us spend our time.
What is this telling me?
Based on these statistics, it seems like the neither the kitchen or the bedroom are a good place to store your seed phrase. And in the event of a fire in these locations, it's possible to isolate the damage solely in these areas using fire prevention equipment (fire extinguisher or sprinkler system) and avoid spread to other areas (especially where your seed might be).
But spread can occur if the fire gets out of hand (or aren't present to contain it). In this sort of event, a fire will most definitely continue to spread until the proper personnel arrive and contain it. That will take time and every second, the risk (and heat increases).
So how do you protect your seed phrase in a house fire?
You can do one or the more following:
- Store it in the least probable place of destruction
- Protect it in an enclosure
- Ensure it can withstand the heat
- Store another copy elsewhere not in your home (would recommend using a passphrase if you do this)
A typical house fire can burn between 1100° F and 2400° F.
This largely depends on the "fuel" the fire has available (building material, furniture, gas, etc.) and the volume it has available to grow (open spaces, high ceilings, more oxygen it has to consume).
It also depends on height at which the temperature is being taken (floor to ceiling). Heat rises and thus, a fire will typically hottest at the ceiling.
So where does that leave you for a "least probably place":
- Away from heat and electrical sources
- Low to the ground
- Separate from highly flammable material
- Contained areas away from rooms with high ceilings (great rooms)
In addition enclosures that protect against fire (such as a bag, container, or safe) increase survivability on its contents in the event of a fire.
Be aware, fire protection enclosures aren't fireproof. They are fire resistant. There is distinct difference.
Fireproof means there is no heat or flame in the world than can destroy it. This is false. Everything melts and burns at a certain temperature.
Fire resistant means it can protect against fire up to a certain temperature over a period of time.
So pay close attention to the fire rating of these enclosures. These ratings show the temperature at which the enclosure can keep its interior for a specific amount of time. Depending on what the material you've stored your seed on, you might need a specific rating.
Lastly, speaking of material you've stored your seed on, ensuring this material can withstand the temperatures of a house fire is another way to protect your seed.
Typically those look to metal seed storage where one engraves, stamps, or punches their seed phrase into a metal that can withstand fire.
Obviously you don't want reducing the risk to fire to completely dictate your life and where you live. Simply keeping up to date on standard safety practices, building protocols, and paying attention your surroundings will help reduce risk immensely (in addition to not playing with fire).
A serious house fire is rare event especially due to the modern safety protocols and materials we put in place today. The number of reported house fires have decreased by more than 50% since 1980. House fires that are unreported are usually able to be contained and don't cause any more damage than a burnt steak.
So stay proactive and prepare to be reactive. Use fire prevention and protection. It will keep your seed phrase (and you) cool for the long run.