According to recent reports, an estimated two million people get locked out of their homes each year. If this has happened to you, you’re certainly not alone. It’s bound to happen at some point. Maybe you stepped outside to grab a package off of the porch or get a breath of fresh air, and your children shut the door and locked it before you could react. This is often an accidental situation, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating or frightening.

Perhaps you started your car to leave, remembered you forgot something in the house, and jumped out to go back inside and get it. Then, in a heart-sinking split second, you realized you’ve locked yourself out of the car as well as the house. It could be that you’re locked out of a room inside your home and don’t have a key that fits the door. Either way, you know you need to get past the lock that’s holding you back. If you find yourself in any of those situations or similar ones, try the following techniques to overcome them.

1) Contact a Professional for Help

Anytime you’re locked out of the house or a room, no matter how it happened, the simplest and most effective solution is to call a professional locksmith for assistance. Millions of people turn to the services at Action Lock Doc each year for home and vehicle lockouts, help with getting into problematic safes, and installing new security locks among other needs. Locksmiths have the knowledge, experience, and tools to get past any type of lock, and they quickly come to the rescue when clients need help no matter the time of day or night their emergencies arise. In many cases, calling a locksmith may be your only option. This is especially true when it comes to entry doors. Locks are becoming increasingly sturdy and complex. They’re designed to resist tampering and prevent home invasions. Because of that, some of the following methods won’t work on newer, more advanced locks. Still, the following strategies may work for older, simpler locks and those on interior doors.

2) Use a Lockpicking Set

Lockpicking kits are readily available online and in many brick-and-mortar stores. They come in a variety of forms from complex to simple. They can also work on several types of locks. Of course, for them to be effective, you have to know how to use them properly. At the same time, the kit needs to be with you when you’re locked out. If it’s on the wrong side of the door when you need it, you won’t be able to get to it at all.

3) Try a Credit Card

This is one of the oldest and most cliched methods for unlocking a door without a key. It also happens to work in some situations. For this technique, you’ll need to slide your credit card between the door and the lock, wedging its corner into the notch in the door frame that the lock slides into. Then, push against the card, bending it in the direction of the door frame. Doing so could spring the lock and allow you to get inside. You could also slide the card between the door and the frame above the lock and press downward. You may need to try multiple times to get the lock open. If at all possible, use a sturdy card that you don’t use very often rather than your preferred debit or credit card or your driver’s license. There’s always a chance that the card could be damaged or broken in the process. It’s also important to understand that this only works on spring locks. Even then, it may not work at all. It won’t be effective on deadbolts and certain other types of locks. You could also try using a butter knife, metal nail file, or other thin, flat tool instead of a credit card.

4) Use a Screwdriver

Screwdrivers can also be effective tools for overcoming a lockout. This only works on privacy locks. You’ll usually find these types of locks on interior doors rather than entry doors. They’re the ones that have a small hole in the center of the doorknob. You’ll need a very small flathead screwdriver for this strategy. Simply slide it into the hole in the center of the doorknob and turn it. This turns a mechanism inside the doorknob that will unlock the door from the outside. With this technique, you can also use other types of items you might have around the house, such as paper clips or bobby pins. You’ll need to straighten out the bobby pin or paper clip for it to work. Then, bend one end to form a thin V shape. Insert the V into the hole in the center of the doorknob and turn it like you would with the screwdriver method. If you use a bobby pin, you might need to remove the protective bubble on the end of it. Otherwise, it may not fit into the hole in the doorknob.

Additional Tips and Tricks

Having a spare key to your home is highly recommended. Though hiding one outside around the house isn’t advisable, you could give a spare to a trusted friend, neighbor, or relative. Then, if you get locked out, all you need to do is call your designated keyholder. You could also have electronic security locks installed on your home. Several types are available, including those with touchpads for entering codes to unlock them and models that you can lock and unlock using your phone. Some operate via RFID chips, and you can use accompanying RFID keycards or wristbands to unlock them.

When it comes to interior or privacy locks, there are several options for preventing or reversing lockouts. If you have small children who tend to lock doors and close them or lock themselves inside various rooms, consider childproofing those doorknobs. You could also remove the locking doorknobs throughout your home and replace them with non-locking models. If you’d rather not resort to those measures, purchase a small screwdriver that will fit the privacy locks or an emergency key to handle those situations. Privacy locks don’t have specific internal keying, so emergency keys are universal.

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