If you find that you’re stuck outside because you’ve forgotten the most crucial part of your keys-phone-wallet check, don’t panic. Chances are, you’ll be able to get inside before the next episode of your favorite show autoplays on Netflix.
Here’s what to do if you’re locked out of the house (scroll for more details):
- Check other doors.
- Check large windows that are low to the ground.
- Contact someone who may have a key.
- Call a locksmith.
What to do when locked out of the house
1. Check other doors
If the door lock on your front door won’t budge, or your suddenly defunct key won’t turn in the lock, check the other entry points of your home. You might find that you forgot to lock the sliding door that leads out to your patio or the door that leads from your garage to the inside of your home. Be sure to check all side doors, back doors, and garage doors—and don’t forget to lock them in the future.
2. Check large, first-floor windows
If you don’t mind a bit of scrambling, check to see if any of your windows on the first floor are unlocked. If it’s big enough, you may be able to lift the window, pop out the screen, and climb through. Just be cognizant of what’s below the window—you wouldn’t want to fall onto your TV and hurt yourself or crush any of your beloved plants.
3. Contact someone who may have a key
If you left things locked up tight, reach out. Someone you live with—a significant other, a parent, or a roommate—or someone close by, like a neighbor, may have a copy of your key. Call them and see if they can let you in or meet you somewhere with the spare key.
If you’re a renter, reach out to your landlord. They should have a copy of your house key, and they may be able to stop by to let you back in. If you live in an apartment complex, you should be able to stop by the property manager’s office and ask to be let back in—then find your keys right where you left them, on the console next to the door.
4. Call a professional locksmith
If all else fails, call a residential locksmith service to open the door and let you in. But be sure you search reviews of three to four locksmiths on a site like Yelp so you can choose a legitimate emergency locksmith service.
Illegitimate locksmiths typically won’t try to work with your existing doorknob. Instead, they’ll drill through your door and go through the process of changing the locks. In the end, you’ll be forced to pay for the locksmith’s services, plus a new doorknob and set of keys for about $350.
Locked out of your car? Be sure to reach out to auto locksmiths instead of residential locksmith services.
A good locksmith will have the tools and know-how to unlock any type of lock (and get you back inside to continue your latest Netflix binge without compromising your door). Lockout services will set you back approximately $90–$200, depending on where you live. The cost will also depend on what day of the week or what time it is: prices for emergency locksmith services are usually higher on weekends, during holidays, and after-hours.
What we don’t recommend
Don’t try to force your way through a locked door. We don’t recommend wedging a plastic credit card into your door frame, picking your lock with a bobby pin, or removing the mounting screws of your doorknob (and we definitely don’t recommend removing your doorknob altogether). With all of these options, you risk damaging your door or your lock. Besides, you don’t want to give potential burglars ideas about how to break in when you’re not around.
How to prevent future lockouts
One of the best ways to prevent future lockouts is to get in the habit of making sure you have your keys with you whenever you leave. But if that’s not possible—or if you’re prone to forgetting—there are a few other ways to get by.
Stash a pair of spare keys
To prevent lockouts in the future, consider keeping a set of spare keys in a lockbox. Most unlock with a combination lock or keypad. Don’t leave these backup keys in plain sight. Instead, put one next to your back door for those moments when you run out to the car to get something, then accidentally lock yourself out.
Give a spare key to someone you trust
Have a neighbor you’ve known for years, a friend who works nearby, or a sibling who lives in town? Pay a few bucks to make them a spare key and save yourself the time, hassle, and cost of a locksmith later down the road.
Install smart locks
Smart locks let you lock and unlock your door without keys. There are two kinds of automated locks that you can choose from. Locks from brands like Schlage and Kwikset let you enter your home with a keypad and an access code.
Other keyless locks, like the August Smart Lock Pro, let you use your phone or a key to lock and unlock your door. As long as your phone is charged, you won’t get locked out.
Being locked out of your home can be frustrating. But by getting in touch with someone who may have your keys, checking all of your entry points, or if all else fails, contacting a locksmith, you can get back inside where it’s cozy.