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In the immortal words of Douglas Adams in his book The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy – Don’t Panic!
You are far from being the first person who’s managed to lock themselves out of their house, so take solace in knowing that everyone’s been in the same boat at one time or another. However, when that realization dawns that you are on the outside of your home, and the keys are on the inside beyond a locked door a wave of fear and trepidation is only natural. Once that moment has subsided, it’s best to take stock of what you can do and try and approach solving getting back inside in a logical manner. Easier said than done I can hear you cry when I’m standing alone outside my empty home. Well, if you take it step by step, then there is nothing really to be concerned about.
Your ineptitude may go as far as not locking the other doors of the house. Go around your property and see if you left the back door or any sliding glass patio doors open. I know it may be an off chance that you left them unlocked, but as a first option, it’s always worth trying. No luck, then.
Walk around your home to see if you have left a window open, which will allow you access. If it’s winter the likelihood of an open window is much less than on a warm summer’s day. You may have to remove screens to check so be careful when taking them off the window frame and replacing them. If you have security bolts, then this may hinder entry through a window as it will not open wide enough for you to squeeze through.
If you had thought this day would come along, you might have planned ahead and left a spare key with a family member or friend, or even a next door neighbor. Give them a call and see if they can pop around with the spare and your troubles will be over. Nowadays this is pretty easy as most people have a cell phone so getting in contact is no trouble, however, if you don’t, you might have to rely on a good neighbor to give you access to a phone. If that doesn’t solve your problem lets go to step 4.
If you can get your hands on one of those thin wire coat hangers, it is sometimes easy to slip it between the door and the frame. Then move it around, so it hooks around the handle and with a sharp tug opens the door. It doesn’t work with all types of doors or handles, but you might have better luck on a window if-if it has a simple latch mechanism. If there is a big enough gap to squirm the wire through a little loop in the end it may be enough to unlatch a window for you. Failing that we can go onto the next step.
For this, it’s best not to use an active credit card as it may get damaged. Most of us have some expired gift or membership cards in our wallets that would suffice. This will only work with spring bolts on standard type locks. Where the latch is located slip the card between the frame and the door. With the card perpendicular to the door, push and wiggle it while bending the card away from the knob. What you are trying to do is to get the card in contact with the latch to slide it back out of the door jam. Sometimes a little push against the door will give the card more room to slide into position. If you do manage to unlock the door, call a locksmith immediately. You have just proven how insecure your home is to intruders, and you need better locks to improve your house’s security.
As long as there is no deadbolt on the door, then removing the doorknob should allow you to gain entry. For this, you will need some basic tools such as a screwdriver and something like a paper clip. Start by unfastening the knob mounting screws so it can come apart. Sometimes these screws are concealed under a fascia that can be screwed off by hand, or have a locking mechanism indicated by a small hole in the fascia. To unlock, push the end of the paper clip inside until you feel resistance, and then agitate the facia or doorknob until it becomes loose and can be removed. Once the fascia is removed, you should have access to the lockset. Using the screwdriver, you can lever the locking mechanism back, and the door should unlock and open.
If everything above defeats you, then it’s time to bring in the professionals, and call a qualified locksmith. Once they arrive on the scene, it usually takes a good locksmith less than a minute to open any door lock. Ok, there is going to be a cost involved in calling out the professional big guns, on the other hand, you’re not going to damage your doors or windows to regain entry.
Now you’re back inside it may be a good idea to consider how you can stop getting locked out of your home in the future. If the only way to get back into your house was with the services of a locksmith, consider giving a spare key to a neighbor, or leaving one at your workplace or with a friend or a work colleague. That way you know there are spares that are accessible should you lock yourself out. If you live somewhere remote or have no close neighbors, there are a number of hideaway systems where keys can be in drop boxes disguised as rocks or logs. Be warned that thieves are aware of these hiding places and they should be placed somewhere that is not obvious away from the front door. The most expensive option would be to go keyless.
Electronic locks with keypads offer a safe and secure system for guarding your home. There are even locks that can be operated by an app on your smartphone.