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Locked Out Of Your House? Here’s What You Can Do

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Wooden front door with stone and wrought iron trim
Look at this beautiful mahogany door! Unfortunately it’s as solid as it looks, and without a key you may be out of luck as far as regaining entry.

Getting locked out of the house can be the cherry on top to an already stressful day. You walk up to your door and realize you do not have your keys, and your door is locked. You’re left to sit there and stare at the door.

Locked out of the house. No key. No open windows or back doors. No one at home. What can you do to get back inside?

8 Things You Should Do When You’re Locked Out Of Your House

There’s some obvious do’s and don’ts when you get locked out. We’ll start out with eight things to try that are generally a good idea.

1) Stay Calm

First, before anything else, remember to stay calm. We make rash and often bad decisions when we are panicked, and you do not want to have to spend a lot of money fixing that window you are thinking about breaking to get inside.

Take a minute to just breathe and think about your options.

2) Double Check Doors And First-Floor Windows

Go back around your house and double-check that all the doors are locked. If you can’t get into any doors, look at your first-floor windows. Are any of these open? Are they big enough for you to get in?

If none of your doors or windows are open, it is time to move on to the next option.

3) Grab Your Spare Key (If You Have One)

Sometimes when we’re panicked, we can forget important things, such as having a spare key hidden somewhere in your yard or a lock box. If you have one, go ahead and get that and let yourself back in. You can move on to the next option if you do not have any spare key (which you most likely do not if you are reading this).

4) Call Someone You Live With

If there is absolutely no way for you to get back into the house, call someone else who lives with you. Text a roommate group chat, call your spouse, parents, or anyone else who would have a key.

We know sending the message “locked out of house, please help” is incredibly embarrassing, and you might not want to do it. But, chances are someone is in the area — or will be soon — and can let you in.

5) Call Your Landlord (If You Have One)

Anyone living in an apartment has an extra person that may be able to help. For example, a landlord will often have an extra copy of a key that they may offer to let you back into your apartment. Remember that most landlords do not necessarily have “emergency hours” when it comes to lockouts, and it may take some time to hear back from them. This said, every landlord is different, and you may want to give yours a call if you are locked out.

6) Ask A Neighbor For Help

Rather than pacing around on your front porch or continuously circling your house like a shark, you may want to stop by a neighbor. This is especially true if it is cold outside or worse yet, raining. If you have any close neighbors, you may want to stop by and see if they are willing to let you come in for a little bit while you wait.

If you don’t know your neighbors well, the present is as good a time as any to meet them! But, if you do not feel comfortable going up to your neighbors‘ houses to ask for help, there are a few more things that you can try.

7) Try The Card Trick

While we do not recommend breaking into your own home as you could cause damage to your locks, doors, or windows, there is one thing you can try that is not overly dangerous or complicated. All you need is a plastic card, like a credit card or gift card. If you have the option, opt for a gift card since this particular use can damage the card.

Basically, all you’re going to do here is jam your card between the door and the doorframe. Then you’re going to forcefully jiggle or press the handle, trying to open the door. You can also use your card to try and hit the locking mechanism and press it so the door can open. Realistically this may or may not work on your door. This technique will only work on normal doors; if you have a deadbolt lock, it will not do anything.

An important note here, if this does work to unlock your door, replace your locks as soon as possible. If you are able to get into your house with nothing but a credit card and a little bit of handle jiggling, so can a thief.

8) Call A Professional

A locksmith is a great resource when you’re locked out of the house. If you are unfamiliar with locksmiths near you, you can ask a neighbor or friend if they know of any nearby reliable locksmiths. You can also search for “locked out of house locksmith emergency service” to get in contact with a professional quickly.

The AAA locked-out-of-house service is also available to AAA Premier Members. Note that this service is only offered for the residence on file for the primary AAA Premier Member, so if you are not in that house, you will need to contact a different locksmithing service.

And depending on your coverage area, as an AAA Premier member you may also be reimbursed $100 for locksmith services.

4 Things Not To Do

If none of those things helped you get back inside your house, you can save time (and stress) by making sure you don’t do any of these four things.

1) Panic

We know. Saying to “not panic” is not very helpful. But the unfortunate truth is that remaining calm is crucial in these situations. If you allow yourself to get panicked, you may make decisions that you’ll regret later — like breaking your door or lock.

2) Try To Break In

As we mentioned earlier, you should refrain from trying to break into your home because it can result in unwanted and expensive damages.

3) Call 911

You may wonder if you should call the police when locked out. Before you search “can police help if locked out of the house” on your phone, the general answer is no. Remember, 911 is a number only meant for emergencies. Usually, being locked out of your house is not an emergency in the eyes of law enforcement.

However, there are situations, of course, where calling 911 for a lockout would be acceptable. For example, if you have a baby inside the house or have left the stove on, you are afraid that your house may be in danger of burning.

4) Try To Climb Into An Upstairs Window

Old stone building with brick accent and red front door
This is a beautiful house! And while it may seem tempting to try and get into one of these upstair windows, just imagine the potential injuries you’d inflict on yourself if you fell.

In the previous section, we mentioned that you could look for open windows to get into your house, but we specified first-floor windows. This is because the last thing you want to do is try to climb in through a higher window and injure yourself in the process.

Even if you have enlisted the help of a neighbor with a ladder, this can be incredibly dangerous, and you may not even be able to get in through your window. So, rather than trying to parkour your way back into your house, you may want to simply wait for a professional or another housemate to let you in.

3 Things You Can Do To Prevent Getting Locked Out

Maybe you’ve been locked out of your house a few times now — or maybe it has only been once, but that’s more than enough for you. To avoid having to send out the embarrassing “I’m locked out of my house” message to your housemates in the future, here are three things that you can do to prepare.

1) Hide A Spare Key

If you do not already have a spare key hidden somewhere, it might be a good idea to get one. Keep in mind, though, that you need to ensure that your key is placed somewhere that is hidden and well-secured to avoid it being used by uninvited guests. For example, you can get a simple combination code lock box to put your key in and keep that on your porch for emergencies.

2) Give A Spare Key To A Neighbor

If you don’t feel comfortable leaving a spare key around your home, you can always give one to a trusted neighbor. This way, you will be able to get into your house more easily if you’re locked out again.

Keep in mind here that you would not be able to access this key if your neighbor is not home, but if you have a neighbor who is usually home, this can be a great option.

3) Upgrade Your Locks To Be Keyless Or Get A Smart Lock

The best way to avoid future lockouts is to eliminate the need for a key altogether. If you have a number combination lock or another form of smart lock on your front door, you won’t have to worry about locking yourself out of the house anymore.

How Do Smart Locks Work?

Hopefully, these tips will help you to get back into your home without issue. Realistically the best way to avoid getting locked out in the future is to use a non-key type of lock on your home. As mentioned above, you could replace your front door with a number combination lock or a smart lock instead of a traditional key. And you can learn how smart locks work before you invest in one.

Alex Schenker

Alex holds BS degrees in Management Science from the University of California at San Diego, and Computer Science from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He is honored to share his nearly two decades of experience in home security and automation, cybersecurity and identity theft protection with our readers. He realized it was time for a home security system when his neighbor’s house got broken into. He has tried to stay ahead of the curve by proactively applying security technologies and software that protect not only his home and family but his personal identity, sensitive information and finances. In his spare time, Alex enjoys playing tennis, going on hikes with his wife and dogs and surfing.

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