Locking yourself out of your house can be such a frustrating experience, especially because there's often no one to blame but yourself. At best, when you're locked out without a key you can expect a long, boring wait while the locksmith makes their way to your home or until someone returns with a key. At worst, you could be stuck outside in the rain, snow or severe heat, or worried about the pot you left boiling on the stove inside. You swear to yourself that you'll never let it happen again, but can you really guarantee that? Anyone can have a thoughtless moment and let a door lock behind them unintentionally. And what if you were to lose your keys, or have them stolen, while you were out of the house? Is there really a way to totally prevent lockouts? Here are a few tips that just might do it.
Forget the Key Under the Doormat Trick
An obvious answer, of course, is to hide a spare key outside. For years, people have been finding "really good" hiding spots – under a doormat, in the mailbox, on top of the door frame, or in a potted plant, to name a few.
Forget all of those possibilities. The problem is that they've all been done so often that everyone knows about them – including people who might want to rob your house. Burglars know all about these hiding place, and they probably know a few that you haven't thought of as well. Someone who wants to rob you will also check to see if you leave one of your windows unlocked in case of emergency, and if you park your car in the driveway, they'll peer inside to see if your garage door opener is inside your car, so these tricks for getting into your house in case of emergency aren't safe either.
Consider a Lockbox Instead
If you're determined to keep a key outside, locking it up is probably your best bet. You can buy small combination lock boxes made for just this purpose. As long as you can memorize the combination, you'll be able to get back into your house.
You'll still want to be pretty careful about where you hide it – a thief may steal it to attempt to pick the lock or break the safe, and even if they're unsuccessful, you'll still be without a key when you need one. Hiding it in the back yard is best, especially if you have a privacy fence -- that way you won't be observed hiding it.
Change Your Locks
If you need a foolproof solution, changing the locks on all of your exterior doors might be the answer. You may have ended up locked out of your house because of a self-locking door – one that automatically locks whenever the door is closed. All it takes is bringing the garbage out and forgetting to take a key with you or prop the door open. Getting rid of these locks will definitely reduce your chances of being locked out again.
That's not all, though. Even a regular lock that you have to turn to lock can lead to an accidental lockout. You might turn it out of habit, even though you were only headed outside to get the newspaper, or you might be planning to leave the house for the day and not realize that you've forgotten your keys till you get out to the car. If you're prone to these kinds of lapses, what you need is an entry door handle and deadbolt combo. There's no way to accidentally lock one of these behind you, because you need the key to lock it from the outside. Some landlords install these to reduce the number of times they're dragged out of the house to let in a locked out tenant. This won't help you if you lose your keys after you leave the house, but otherwise, you'll be safe from a lockout.
Just in case, it's best to know the name and number of your local emergency locksmith. Keep it in your cell phone or store the business card in the glove compartment of your car, and that way you'll always have at least one way back into your home. Talk to a company like A-Dave's Lock & Safe to learn more about locksmith services.