More and more often these days, your gun safe is likely to have an electronic lock of some kind. This is ideal for getting into the safe quickly if the battery is working. But what if the battery is dead? What do you do then?
Here are a few suggestions on how to prevent this, and on how to get into your safe if the battery does fail.
Read the manual!
I am not being sarcastic here. Gun safes, depending on the model, have different battery lives, different battery locations, different backup entry methods, etc. and it would be too complicated to try and cover every option here.
So read your manual. Know ahead of time what to do if the battery fails. It is bad enough discovering your safe won’t open on a typical day. Imagine what it would be like if it happened in an emergency. There are usually methods of relatively quick entry available to you if you have the information and any equipment such as backup keys at hand.
Change the batteries regularly!
Again, this seems obvious but is quickly forgotten. Manuals may tell the expected life of batteries in the unit, but this is under controlled circumstances. Your batteries may not last as long if, for example, you use open the safe door frequently or if the batteries are past or close to their expiration dates (Yes, batteries, even if not being used, have an expiry date!).
And one other important factor is: Don’t rely on low battery indicators!
A weak battery that is not completely drained may still contain enough power to prevent the low battery indicator from showing even when it doesn’t have enough juice left to activate the locking mechanism. Therefore, you may think that the battery is fine until you try to open the safe.
- Change the batteries at least once a year (even if the manual says batteries should last longer).
- Better still, change the batteries twice a year when the clocks change.
Many people have got into the habit of changing the batteries in smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors twice a year when the clocks either spring forward or fall back. (If you’re not, you should be.) Then, simply add your safe to the list of things needing new batteries.
My batteries have still died:
A. And the battery case is on the outside of the safe:
This is the easiest situation to remedy. Simply replace the batteries. The battery holder may be hidden in some way—often behind a logo plate or a numeric keypad—and you should be good to go. Some safes may just have external electrodes that you can use with a battery to open the safe giving you access to an internal battery case.
Also, most memories on electronic locks will retain previously programmed combinations or fingerprints even if the batteries have been dead for a long time. Some, however, may reset to a default combination. Make sure you know this. (READ THE MANUAL AHEAD OF TIME!)
B. And the battery case is inside the safe:
In this situation, it is likely that your safe was provided with a backup key for a mechanical lock. The keyhole may or may not be hidden. Here are a few points to remember with this type of safe:
- Know where the keyhole is and how to get to it!
- Know where the key is and how to get to it!
- Don’t keep it in the safe
- Know that you have access to the key and the keyhole!
- If you are anchoring your safe in a particular location, make sure easy access to the keyhole is maintained. For example, don not anchor a safe with the keyhole on the front ion a drawer (the front of the drawer will stop you getting to the keyhole.)
My batteries are dead, and I’ve lost the key
In this situation, your best option is to contact the manufacturer. They normally have procedures for replacing keys that may involve filling in a form or giving certain information such as model and serial number. Make sure that you have this information easily available. The procedure and the information needed will be in the manual. You might have noticed that I can’t stress this strongly enough – read the manual when you buy the safe! You don’t want to be in this situation and find out that the only location of the serial number is inside the safe.
Generally, a little preparation and forethought will prevent this situation from ever happening to you. As I keep saying, read the manual when you first get the safe and learn the backup procedures. Then if you are unfortunate enough to have this happen in an emergency situation, you will know what to do.
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