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Steps to Take When You're Locked Out of Your Home

Chris Wilson - Writer for Top10.com
Steps to Take When You're Locked Out of Your Home
If you've managed to lock yourself out of your house, don't spiral into full crisis mode yet.

As a home security expert with 20+ years of experience, I've seen firsthand how often people find themselves in this predicament. So, I'll walk you through practical steps when you're locked out of your home.

We'll explore alternate ways to regain access to your home. I'll also share preventative tips to implement now so you're less likely to get locked out again in the first place.

» Looking for safety on a budget? Check out this guide to home security costs.

1. Contact a Housemate With a Spare Key

If you've given a spare key to a friend, family member, or neighbor, now's the time to contact them. Get in touch quickly and figure out how to grab that extra set. It shows how handy it is to have trustworthy people around for emergencies, especially if you live in one of the states with the highest burglary rates

2. Look For an Alternative Entry

Search for an unlocked window, garage, or side door to get back in. If you find one, take this as a reminder to secure your windows afterward to safeguard your home against robberies. 34% of burglars enter through the front door, while 23% sneak in through a first-floor window.

» Is your home safe? Learn about the signs that your house is marked by robbers.

3. Contact a Trusted Locksmith

If you find yourself unable to enter, contact a certified locksmith immediately. Clearly state your address and the type of lock you need to be opened. I recommend finding someone local with credentials from the Associated Locksmiths of America.

A skilled professional can get you inside in minutes without damaging your door. You can expect a locksmith to cost anything from $50-$400, depending on the time of day, the type of lock, and additional service charges.

Contact a Trusted Locksmith

4. Call Your Landlord

If you're a renter, count yourself lucky. You can contact your landlord or apartment manager, who usually has a master key or access to locksmith services. This saves you the cost and hassle of hiring someone and ensures you follow the rules for accessing your apartment.

It's wise to establish a good relationship with your property manager or landlord for situations like these. They'll likely need to change the locks if you don't find your keys—and you might have to pay for it as well.

5. Reach Out to Your Security System Provider

Many modern home security systems, like SimpliSafe, include smart locks that can be controlled remotely through your phone or app. Alternatively, if you're registered for professional monitoring services, you can contact your provider, like Vivint's support team. 

They may be able to remotely open your door if your system supports this functionality or guide you through alternative methods to regain access to your property safely.

What to Avoid When You’re Locked Out

  • Panicking: Anxiety makes it harder to make sound decisions. Take a deep breath to calm your mind. Ask yourself: Do you have a spare key with a trusted neighbor or friend? Is there an open window you could safely enter?
  • Breaking in: Trying to break a window or door can cause injury and result in costly repairs. It may also raise suspicion among neighbors or passersby, leading them to call the police.
  • Not using familiar tools: Attempting to pick the lock with the proper skills or tools can damage it, making the situation worse and more expensive.
  • Posting on social media: Sharing your situation might seem like a call for help, but it can also alert potential burglars that your house is vulnerable.
  • Leaving your home: If you're waiting for help, try to stay near your home to monitor it for security reasons and to be there when help arrives.
  • Not hiring a verified locksmith: Hiring the first person you find without checking their credentials or reviews can lead to overcharging or poor quality work. Always look for reputable, professional services.
What to Avoid When You’re Locked Out

Tips to Avoid Future Lockouts

Install Smart Locks With Digital Access Codes

Jason Johnson, CEO of automation company August, reports that around two million Americans got locked out of their homes in 2023. You can prevent being shut outside with smart locks from providers like Frontpoint Security.

These systems use digital passcodes instead of traditional keys to open doors. You can create and share unique entry pins with household members, friends, family, service providers, and renters.

Automated locks allow you to update codes or revoke access as needed, providing flexibility and enhanced security. You can assign names to each access pin and get notifications about who's entering your home directly through your security app.

Store Spare Keys in a Key Safe

Pick a strong, tamper-proof key safe from a provider like ADT and mount it somewhere hidden close to your front door. Only let trusted people know where it is and the combination. This setup gives you a secure and easy way to get your spare key if you ever get locked out.

Set Up a Key Exchange With Neighbors

A neighborhood that looks out for one another can deter crime and create peace of mind for all residents. Swap spare keys with neighbors you trust to avoid getting locked out if you lose yours.

Pick dependable neighbors close enough to help out fast in a pinch. Exchange keys with trusted neighbors to create a support system while fostering community safety. Check in periodically to update any changes to your keys.

Tips to Avoid Future Lockouts

Navigating Home Lockouts: Stay Calm and Take Action

Getting shut outside your house is stressful and inconvenient. Take a deep breath and work through potential solutions with a calm approach. Check if a window is unlocked, or see if there's a spare key hidden outside. Call a locksmith or ask neighbors for assistance if none of these steps get you back inside.

Consider upgrading your home security with a digital lock system or professional monitoring services to prevent this situation from happening again. With proactive planning and automation, a misplaced key doesn't need to ruin your day.

» Need some guidance? Learn how to choose the best home security system.

Chris Wilson - Writer for Top10.com
Chris Wilson contributes to Top10.com as a CSPM with over 23 years of experience in the North American security market. His expertise includes system design, project management, and solutions engineering. Chris has written for SDM and Locksmith Ledger and co-published various blogs within the security industry.