What to do in different lockout situations

Lockouts have one thing in common; they can happen most anywhere! You can be home, or at work. You can be on vacation or in your car. You can even be at your place of business or shopping at someone else’s. One minute you are thinking of where to go for lunch and the next moment you can be fighting a closed, locked door. Do you need or have to call us if you are locked out? Surprisingly, no! Often, you can get back inside yourself, without causing property damage, alarming your neighbors or spending any money. Read on to see how.

Home Lockouts

It’s so easy to get locked out at home. This is because we are so relaxed that we become distracted, and that lockout can happen in a split second while we are thinking of other things. We might let the dog out for a “potty” break and not notice the locked door closing behind us. We might go out for our morning run and forget to bring a key; by the time we realize this, it’s too late! Lockouts at home can take place inside, too! A child or pet can lock themselves in a bedroom or bathroom by accident and not have any way back out. Older folks with dementia do this from time to time as do guests and others not familiar with your home locks.

Car lockouts

Auto lockouts are very common and it’s easy to see why. Drivers are faced with so many distractions; road signs, billboards, pedestrians, traffic lights, oncoming traffic and even our own passengers! Since we have to be so alert while using the car, it’s easy to forget just where your keys are at the moment. You might run inside a shop to grab take out or dry cleaning and forget all about the ignition keys still dangling inside your locked car. You might unload groceries from your trunk and inadvertently put your keys down to grab a bag and close the locked trunk lid.

Business lockouts

Every town has dozens to thousands of local businesses that all use locks and keys. While there are huge differences between a hotel and a sandwich shop, they both use locks and keys and can produce a lockout situation involving staff, guests, customers, vendors and owners. Often, employees on a smoke break can accidentally nudge the back door propped by a chair or brick, thereby locking themselves out. Someone throwing out the trash can mistakenly think that the back door was unlocked when it wasn’t.

Don’t be a hero

It’s safe to say that you don’t wear a cape. No one will think you are a hero by smashing your way back into your property. Of course, if it is an emergency and you need to, that’s a different matter, but 90% of lockouts are not that. Smashing a window or tearing a door frame off will only cause property damage that will need to be fixed later. You might even get hurt in the process. Then there’s the neighbor, roommate, security guard or police officer that might mistake you for a burglar. You don’t want or need to be arrested or even shot!

So what do you do?

The conventional answer is to call a locksmith. Sure, you can always do that. In fact, we recommend having the phone number of your favorite locksmith shop logged in your smart phone. In the “old” days of phone booths and landlines, you had to find a phone to call for help; nowadays, we just reach for our mobile device and tap to call. If you need to call a locksmith, do so. If you have hidden a spare key and can access it, you may just save some money and time by using that.

Spare keys are good (most of the time!)


  • Hide a spare key in a well-hidden spot
  • Remember where you hid it
  • Be discreet and selective who you tell about it
  • Use your spare only for emergencies


  • Tell too many people about your spare
  • Forget where it is hidden
  • Use your spare key a lot
  • Keep it in an obvious place

You can hide your spare key by taping it to the underside of your car. You can keep another inside your backyard BBQ grill or in a rain gutter. Forget the flower pot on the front porch; it’s too obvious; just like under the door mat or over the door sill. You can always give one to a trusted neighbor or friend. Be sure that they are trusted and discreet. You don’t want the whole neighborhood hearing how they have the key to your home! Giving a spare key to a trusted confidant works in another little known way; it gives you a contact to call and possibly stay on the phone with. This tends to give a calming effect; especially during times of stress or fear. When locked out of your car in a bad or strange neighborhood, it’s nice to have someone to talk to while they bring your spare key. If you happen to need a “witness” your phone friend can also attest to any problems that you encounter while talking.