It’s happened, you are locked out of your house. What do you do from here?
Being locked out is a major inconvenience. However, if you have animals or children inside your home, a lockout is a more serious problem.
The good news is you have a few different options for getting back inside.
Steps to Take When You are Locked Out
Step 1: Look for Open Windows or Unlocked Doors
Before you do anything else, check all entrances. If you are lucky enough, there may be an open window or unlocked door that can be used to access your home. If you enter through a window, remove any screens, lift the window, and slowly move through. Just watch out for any furniture located underneath the window.
Step 2: Contact Someone You Know
If you are renting your home, your landlord will more than likely have a spare key. Hopefully, your landlord is close enough to help you out though. The other option is to contact the person you live with. It might be an inconvenience for them, but at least you have a way back in. If you live in an apartment building, the building manager may be able to give you access to your home again – this may attract a small fee.
Step 3: Contact a Locksmith
If there is no way to access your apartment or home, it is time to contact a locksmith. Lockout fees vary depending on the locksmith and how urgently you require assistance. Calling a locksmith is one of the more convenient ways to get back inside your home. Plus, it limits damage to your locks.
Step 4: Go the DIY Route
This is not recommended, but it is an option. If a locksmith can’t get to your home right away or you simply want to avoid lockout fees, you can always improvise. Bobby pins and paper clips are two examples of items that you can bend to try and enter a door. You will need one L-shaped pin and one straight pin with a small W at the end. The bent pin holds the tool in place, while the W-shape helps move the pins around inside the lock. Again, this is not recommended because you could end up damaging the lock, which will cost more to repair.
Should your door have a standard spring bolt, you may be able to use a hard card to gain access. Keep in mind, you probably won’t be able to use this card again, so select a card you no longer need. You can now push and wiggle the card around to create a wedge that will slide the latch back.
As a side note, if you do manage to gain access to your home using either of these tools, you should consider upgrading your locks. If you could get in, a criminal can too.
Step 5: Remove the Doorknob
This should be an absolute last resort. If the door you want to enter doesn’t have a locked deadbolt, removing the doorknob could give you access. You can do this by using a paper clip or bobby pin to apply pressure to the pin-sized hole on the side or below the doorknob. As you apply pressure, use your other hand to pull and turn the doorknob. Eventually, you should be able to remove the doorknob. Once the lockset is revealed, however, you will need another pin or a screwdriver to pull back on the locking mechanism.
If you have never attempted something like this, you can cause a lot of damage and create additional access problems. A locksmith should always be your first choice for gaining access when you don’t have a spare key.
Avoid Getting Locked Out
Getting locked out is a frustrating experience, so it helps to avoid it altogether. Here are a few tips that can help you prevent a lockout going forward.
Make the Switch to Keyless Entry
When you can’t lose or damage a key, you can’t get locked out of your home. Electronic door locks operate with codes or via an app. Keyless locks can also be paired with home security systems, giving you greater control over who accesses your home.
Give Someone a Spare
To prevent a lockout that lasts for hours, create a spare key and leave it with someone you trust. Just make sure this person is close by. Consider leaving the key with a neighbor or a friend who lives nearby.
Hide a Spare Key
Outdoor key holders are another option. However, they do increase the risk of a break-in because many criminals are aware of what these holders look like. If you do go this route, opt for a holder that’s less obvious and blends in with your surroundings.
Getting locked out is not ideal, but it does happen. Remember, stay calm and clearly assess your options before you decide on a solution. Above all else, make sure that you always have the contact number of a reputable locksmith on hand at all times.