I never thought it would happen to me, but one day I lost my house keys. I pulled them out of my bag, and the ring holding my keys went flying, unnoticed. When I got home, I discovered that I was locked out. So, I hauled a ladder out of the garage and climbed it, hoping to crawl in the second floor window. The ladder wasn't high enough to reach the window ledge. In my infinite wisdom, I jumped up and flung my body through the open window head first. I could have killed myself. I don't recommend that anybody try this stupid solution.
How to Not Get Locked Out of the House
One thing you absolutely do not want to do is to leave a door or window unlocked as protection against getting locked out. Because if you know how to break in to your house, a burglar can easily discover that method, too. Always lock your doors and windows.
The secret to avoid getting locked out of the house is to make an extra set of keys, and make sure you have access to a spare key in the event you are locked out.
If you do not have an extra key, you may need to call a locksmith. Do not kick in the door because you may end up replacing the door jamb, door frame and your door, which is far more expensive than paying a locksmith. Ditto for breaking a window. Locksmiths are cheaper. Just in case, program a locksmith's phone number into your cell.
Good Places to Stash a House Key
You can't have too many house keys. First, it helps if all the locks in your home are keyed to one key. You can remove your door knobs and take them to a hardware store, do it yourself (if you know how) or call a locksmith to change all the locks so they unlock with the same key. Here are places to hide an extra key:
- Give an extra key to a friend, family member or neighbor whom you trust.
- Buy a fake rock, put the key inside and hide the rock in the garden. Make sure the rock looks real because burglars know how to look for these.
- Carry an extra key in a briefcase or, if you're a woman, your bag.
- Install a wireless keypad on the outside of your garage and hide a key inside the garage. Bear in mind that in the event of a power failure, your garage door may not open.
- Lock the key inside your electrical panel and lock the panel with a combination padlock.
- Attach a heavy duty contractor's box to a gas pipe and put the key inside.
Bad Places to Stash a House Key
Many burglars prefer to enter homes through unlocked doors, but they rarely take the time to search for a key. Breaking a window is faster and more convenient for crooks. Still, that doesn't mean you should leave a key in a conspicuous spot where a burglar is likely to find it. Here are bad places to hide an extra key:
- Under the mat. First place people look, not to mention, the wind might blow it off the steps.
- Under a planter.
- In the mailbox.
- In your car's glove box.
- Taped inside a gutter.
- On a window ledge.
- On your dog's collar.
- In the lock itself.
Now of course, after I inflicted bodily harm by thrusting myself through my second-floor window, I found my house keys the following morning, lying on the floor of my office. That episode was the turning point for me, and now I will never get locked out of my house. Providing, I should add, if I can remember where I hid my extra key.
At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, DRE # 00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.