If you have ever lost the keys to your home or accidentally misplaced them (even though you are SURE you left them on the kitchen counter or hanging on the key rack…), you are not alone! Countless homeowners and apartment dwellers experience this ill-willed fate daily. In fact, a lockout situation can happen to anyone — at home, at the office, on the road, or when traveling overseas. The good news is that there are many proactive steps you can take to troubleshoot your way out of the jam as well as prevent being locked out in the first place.
How To Prevent Losing Your Keys
The adage “safety begins at home” probably never rang more true than when you cannot find the keys to your premises. If you are already out and about when you make the dismal discovery, panic is likely to ensue and your plans for the day may be seriously interrupted or undermined. On the other hand, not locating your key when you need to leave can be equally distressing, almost guaranteeing you will be late for the first thing on your to-do list or miss an important event altogether.
This is a good time to remember another adage made famous by Benjamin Franklin: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Meaning that it pays to spend a short time and effort early on to protect yourself from possible danger or damage later. In the case of being locked out of your home, the following is some expert advice from the pros.
Home Safety Begins With A Spare Key
One of the best ways out of a lockout situation is to have a spare set of keys. You can keep the copy close by, i.e. in your wallet, the glove compartment of your car, or even hanging on an item of clothing or around your neck. Alternatively, you can hide an emergency key in a discreet location near your home or leave a duplicate with someone you trust, such as a family member or neighbor.
Call A Residential Locksmith
Since there is always a risk of misplacing keys or inadvertently locking them inside, the best piece of advice is to enlist the aid of a certified residential locksmith before a crisis ensues. Not only are the professionals experienced in safely opening/repairing/changing locks, but they can cut new keys or replace lost ones. Securing the services of a locksmith in advance and sharing with them a copy of your original key can save major headaches and anxiety in time of an emergency. For this reason, it is also wise to keep the contact information of a reputable locksmith in your address book, wallet, or phone. They also handle key-related issues such as broken keys and can even provide a temporary arrangement while a lock is being repaired or replaced. Best of all, they work 24/7 and can get you out of a jam day or night.
Top Tips On How To Prevent A Lockout Scenario
Did you know that locks and keys often show signs of damage even before they stop working? The fact is that even the best of locks can suffer from wear and tear over time. If you know what signs to look for, you can take action early on to prevent the fallout.
Here are some more tips from the pros:
- Lock Maintenance: To ensure the durability of your locks, have them checked periodically by a professional locksmith. You should also clean them regularly to prevent the buildup of dirt, grime, or oils that build up inside keyholes, on locks, and even on deadbolts. This will also prevent the door mechanism from sticking or ‘freezing.’ Simply wipe down the area with some soap and water and dry with a soft cloth. Likewise, be careful to never use excessive force when trying to unlock a door. Inserting a key the wrong way or using the wrong key can result in irreparable damage to the lock or inner cylinder, especially if they are on the verge of wearing out.
- Pay Heed To Signs Of Worn-Out Or Damaged Keys: If your key stops turning in the lock, works sometimes but not always, or frequently gets stuck, it’s probably time for a new set of keys or lock. At the very least, be sure to call a professional locksmith for inspection and/or repair before the problem gets worse.
- Do Away With Self-Locking Door Knobs: While self-locking door knobs that automatically lock as soon as the door is shut are convenient and can be a great time-saver, they can often cause more trouble than they are worth. Alternatively, consider replacing them with deadbolts.
DIY Techniques To Avoid
Despite what you may have seen on T.V., YouTube, or in the movies, trying to unlock a door with DIY techniques is a likely recipe for disaster. Not only can they do more damage than good, but they will not work on newer models.
Be sure to call in the pros and avoid the following actions:
- Use of a wire clothes hanger
- Use of lock-picking tools
- Smashing a window instead
Finally, if you have a ‘smart’ home and are looking for an upgraded ‘smart’ lock to complete the picture, there are plenty of technologically advanced units to choose from. Instead of using a key or deadbolt, doors can now be unlocked remotely and come with extra security features such as built-in alarms, auto-lock technology, and more.
Fortunately, modern residential locksmiths have also upgraded their skills and are equipped to install or replace your existing system with programmable keys and locks, enhancing the safety of your home, office, car, safe, garage, and storage units.