What To Do If You’re Locked Out Of Your House
I grew up in a rural area of Washington State in a house built in the 1920′s. On those rare occasions when I locked myself out of my home (and by rare I mean weekly) I could easily get in. My house was so old that just about every window could be pulled out of its frame by hand. The hardest part about breaking into my childhood home was making sure I didn’t fall on my head as I climbed through the window.
Of course, not everyone has the luxury of living in a house that easily comes apart. That’s why Homeguide411 has compiled several helpful tips to ensure that you never find yourself locked out of your house.
However, all of our tips involve some sort of planning. So if you’re currently locked out of your home and you’re reading this article via a Smartphone, looking for some magical way inside, I’m sorry to say there isn’t one. If that’s your situation all you can really do is to break into your home or call a locksmith (I suggest the latter). Fortunately, in this article we’ve also included tips on how to choose a good locksmith.
The Hidden Key
Hide a spare key somewhere outside of your house. You obviously want to put it in a place you can easily remember and locate. Just make sure you hide it in such a way that it would be difficult for anyone else to find. Please don’t hide your spare key under the welcome mat. Once you use your “hidden key” it’s recommended that you find a new hiding place.
The Key is Having Good Neighbors
Give a spare key to a trusted neighbor, one that’s home all the time. If you find yourself locked out of your house, all you have to do is walk next store and ask your neighbor for your spare key. While you’re there you might want to borrow a cup of sugar—I noticed you were all out.
The Key Keepers
Loan a spare key to a best friend or a family member. While this may not be as convenient as hiding a key or loaning one to your neighbor, it’s generally safer. After all, you probably trust your friend or relative more than the people living across the street. Hopefully, whoever has your spare key is in town and available to rush right over and let you in.
Second Story Window
Often we leave second story windows unlocked. If you can SAFELY climb onto your roof, either with your superb mountaineering skills or with a ladder (maybe you could borrow one from your neighbor), you could access one of those unlocked windows. If you live in a ranch style home I suggest you quickly build a second story and put in at least one unlocked window.
If all else fails, you can always break into your home—maybe pry a window loose or dislodge a door from its hinges. If push comes to shove, you could even break a window. Of course, getting into your house this way is a bit drastic, not to mention expensive with all the damage you’re likely to cause. Still, it’s an option, but one I would only use as a last resort.
Call Your Locksmith
If you’ve failed to plan for that inevitable time when you’ve locked yourself out of your home, and you don’t want to smash one of your windows with a rock, then you need to call a locksmith. Not to split hairs, but if you were able to utilize any of the aforementioned solutions then technically you weren’t locked out of your home.
Nonetheless, like hiding a key or giving a spare to a family member, calling a locksmith takes some forethought. You want to have a locksmith chosen long before you actually need one. But just in case you haven’t taken the time to find one the following guidelines can still be used in an emergency.
- Selecting a locksmith is similar to hiring a plumber, an electrician, or a contractor. You want to choose someone recommended by a friend or family member. You will also want to check them out with your state attorney general, local consumer agencies, and the Better Business Bureau.
- If you find a locksmith on the internet, or in the yellow pages, make sure they’re actually located at their listed address. If they don’t have an address, or if they say they’re local when they’re really not, keep looking.
- Pay attention to how a locksmith answers the phone. If they greet you with a generic phrase like “locksmith services,” hang up—they’re a scam. You want your locksmith to answer the phone by stating the full name of their business or something like that.
- Before hiring a locksmith, get an accurate price quote on parts, labor, and fees. If a locksmith arrives and suddenly gives you a higher price than what he or she quoted over the phone (for no clear reason) ask them to leave.
- Make sure the locksmith is insured. During the course of their work, a locksmith could possibly damage your property. You want to hire an insured locksmith so your home is protected in case of an accident.
- When the locksmith arrives at your home ask for identification and a business card. If you live in Alabama, California, Illinois, Louisiana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, or Texas you should also ask for a license. Those are the only states that require locksmiths to be accredited.
- Expect a locksmith to ask to see your identification too. At least that’s what you want them to do. No reputable locksmith should run around unlocking homes for people just because they’re standing on the stoop looking desperate. Honest locksmiths should be just as cautious about you, as you are about them.
- A locksmith should arrive in a company van that’s clearly marked. If they show up in a car it should be for an emergency job only—as in they rushed straight from their own home. If the locksmith shows up in a suspicious looking vehicle you should be suspicious too.
- Be extremely wary if the locksmith wants to drill out your lock and replace it. An experience locksmith can open just about any domestic lock. If they want to cut your lock out of your door they are either up to something bad or they aren’t a good locksmith.
- When the work is completed the locksmith should provide you with a detailed invoice. If they don’t, insist they give you one and then after they leave start looking for a new locksmith.
- After you’ve found a locksmith you like and trust, keep their name and contact information on your person. Having your locksmith’s phone number easily accessible will be extremely helpful the next time you find yourself locked out of your home.