Have you ever noticed that some of the most helpful things we learn in life we learn when we are embarrassed or have made a foolish mistake? I know that is the case with me. When I was a teenager, I was incredibly forgetful like most teenagers, and I was a latch, key kid. Meaning if you don't know that I would ride the bus home after school and let myself in. Then I would stay alone for a few hours until my mom got home.
However, I was constantly locking myself out and leaving my keys at home. This would force me to stay outside until someone got home from work to let me in. One day it was cold, and I didn't want to wait around, so I found another way in. In this article, we are going to talk about all the options you have when you realize, “Oh great; I am locked out!”
Look For an Open Door
This is the most obvious answer, but you would be surprised how many people don't take the time to check if another door was left unlocked before moving on to more drastic measures. As much as we all like to believe that we are careful and would never accidentally leave a door unlocked, we are human, and sometimes our forgetfulness can be a blessing in disguise.
So, first things first, check all the doors you can to see if there is a way in. This is what I did. I checked the front door, side door, my mom’s door, and the sliding glass door. In my case, this time, all the doors were locked, but I had been lucky in the past. The sliding door wasn't latched, nor was the piece of wood in the door sill to prevent it from opening, so I was able to get in. My Mom learned from this and, from then on, always made sure that the door was secure, so this time I was out of luck.
But always remember to check all doors FIRST. Sometimes the answer is as simple as the side door being unlocked or unhooking the door chain from outside. I have done this too in a future house. Yes, I am ashamed to say my forgetfulness about keys and locking myself out continued for many years, even after this and well into my adult years. Note to self, never run out of your house, locking the door behind you without your key at 11 pm because you are excited about doughnuts. As good as Krispy Kreme is, it isn't worth being locked out of your home all night.
Anyway, the moral of the story, check your doors, and if they are chained, don't give up. Sometimes getting a door chain off is as simple as taking a pen and maneuvering it through the doorway to lift the chain up and off the slide. However, if you find all your doors shut tight, you have more options.
Search For Alternate Ways in
This option will be different depending on your house or apartment. There are many ways to get into a house, and it will behoove you to check all your options next. In some homes, you may have a dog door that, while small, can help you. If you can slide in just a little to reach the lock, then you can get back in. You can also ask a child if you have one to wiggle in and do it. Or, if you had the foresight to teach Fido how to unlock doors, then you could request assistance from your furry friend.
Our house, unfortunately, did not have a dog door, but we did have a lot of windows. I started going from window to window, checking if I was able to open it. Keep in mind when checking windows to take your time. You don't want to break your window or your screen in the process of trying to get in. Also, note that even if you have difficulty opening the window, it doesn't mean it is locked. Many windows, especially in older homes, can get stuck, and you need to get a good grip with the proper amount of leverage to get in.
This is where I succeeded. My living room window was unlocked, and I could climb into my house from behind the TV. I was never so happy to be in my house as I was at that moment! But, if all your windows are locked, think hard of all the ways you could enter your house. Maybe you have a garage and a garage door opener which will allow you to reach the unlocked door leading from the garage to your home? Maybe you have a basement or cellar entry? Maybe you have a neighbor with a ladder who will assist you in checking upstairs or balcony windows? Every home is different, so think about and check all of your options. If everything is locked up, then move on to option three.
Look For A Spare Key
This solution can also be used before the other two if you know where to find a spare key. However, if you think there is a spare key around but don't know where you will need to search. Check every place where you or your family may have stashed one. I got locked out so many times as a teen that my Mom finally bought one of those magnetic key hiding boxes. She hid it under the grill, so I could always get in. If you are unsure of where it is hidden, try reaching out to the family to see if they know.
Also, try talking with your neighbors to see if any of them hold a spare key for you. It is important always to have at least one trusted friend who has a key for you in case you are locked out. This is what I learned in college, and after my late-night doughnut run I was talking about, this is what I had to do. Unfortunately, I had to wait until morning to call her, but if you have a friend you can call at 3 am, this is the friend I recommend you give your spare key to.
Okay, so strike three, you didn't hide a spare, and it is Thanksgiving Day, so no one is answering the phone or door to help you out. Now, it is time to get creative, think McGyver. With a little thinking,
With a lot of ingenuity and some luck, you will find a way in.
Some examples are, if you have a credit card on you, you may be able to slide it through the door jam and release the lock. Note, this will not work with deadbolts. You might be able to take a pen and slide the door chain off the slide the way I did. If you happen to have a coat hanger, you may be able to use it in the same way as a credit card, or it may be able to help you reach further in through the dog door or partially open window to access the lock. Try to think of all the available options and what tools you have on hand to see if there is a solution.
Call A Locksmith
So, you have been trying for the last hour every way you can think of to get back into your beloved home. You check your pockets, and all you have is a pack of chewing gum and nickel, which isn't going to help. It is time to call a professional. A locksmith can get you back into your home very quickly, and while you don't want to make that call, it is a much better option than remaining stuck outside. We here at ASAP Locksmith are here to help you no matter what time of day, 24/7, and we will be happy to assist you in reentering your home.
When calling a locksmith, always make sure they are reputable and professional. Your Uncle down the street may claim he can open any lock. But if that involves hammering the lockout of the door, then you are in for a hefty unnecessary cost of repair or, worse, replacing. It is always better to call a professional who will get the job done with the least damage possible.
This is very important to stress, do not try these techniques yourself. These are ways of entering a locked door that should only be attempted by a licensed and professional locksmith. When a locksmith comes to your home, they can try many different techniques.
First, they may try to use a bump key which is a blank key that is placed within the lock and then hit gently with a hammer. This creates the grooves allowing it to be turned in the lock. This is not a technique for beginners. It can easily be overdone, and the key will snap in the lock, leaving you with a bigger issue. Another option a locksmith can try is to open your door with lock picks. Lock picks work by maneuvering the pins within the lock to allow it to open. This option should only be tried by a licensed professional as it requires special tools and training.
A Note About Identification
When calling a locksmith, you will need to be able to verify who you are. A locksmith legally cannot let you into your home without proof that you live there. It is too much of a liability, and a locksmith would rather lose you as a customer than be stuck in a costly legal battle because they let the wrong person in.
Keeping this in mind, always make sure to have proof prepared and easily accessed in case you ever end up in this situation. If you have no proof and find yourself stuck outside your locked home, reach out to a neighbor to vouch for you. In most instances, if you can show a reasonable amount of proof or get a neighbor's verification, the locksmith with help you. Every locksmith strives to be understanding but knows they have to always weigh the risk in every decision they make. Make it easy for them, and always carry your ID with you to assist you in a sticky situation.
How NOT To Get into Your Locked Home?
This article would not be complete without telling you what NOT to try when you are locked out. These methods are dangerous, costly, and in a lot of cases, won't even help you when trying to break into your own home.
First, never break a window! One time I was locked out of my home, and I accidentally broke a window. It was such an ordeal, and it is not worth it when you have to make that embarrassing call to your Landlord to let them know what happened. Also, it is hazardous. You can hurt yourself from the shattering glass or from trying to climb in through a broken, jagged window pane. It is costly to fix and can let in the weather or bugs if not fixed promptly. You will have to drop everything to fix the problem as your home is no longer secure against criminals or the elements. Being secure and safe in your home is important, so please never break a window to get into your locked house.
Next, in the same vein, don't try to kick your door down. Kicking a door can cause damage not only to you but also to your lock, door, and door jam. This is very expensive to fix and will again leave your home open to anyone who wants to enter until you can get it repaired. Your medical bills could be astronomical if you manage to hurt yourself in the process, and it could all be for naught if you aren't successful when trying to kick the door down. This may look cool on TV when Michael Weston or Derek Morgan do it, but in real life, doing this will only cause more problems.
Lastly, unless you are a licensed professional locksmith, do not try to drill out your own lock. This procedure is not easily done and takes years of training and practice to perfect. Also, even if you successfully manage to drill the lock, you may still not be able to get in, and the lock will have to replace. This is very expensive and could add up to upwards of $1,000 or more if you also damage the door. Save yourself the expense and do not try this at home.
So, the next time you find yourself stuck outside without your keys, we hope this article helps you know your options. Being locked out is a frustrating experience that we all could do without, but with a quick mind and a little luck, you can find your way back in, and if all else fails, don't hesitate to call us at ASAP Locksmith and we will be happy to get you back into your home.
I am Dustin Fernandez, and I'm the owner of ASAP Locksmith in Dallas. My company is a family business, and we provide locksmith services to residential, commercial, and automotive customers. I’ve been in the locksmith industry since 1995, when I was just 20 years old. I started by working for another locksmith company before eventually starting my own. Over time, my father joined me as a partner in this venture, which made him proud to help his son succeed at something he loved doing!