You have a long day at work. It’s dark when you get home and you just want to open the door, park yourself on the couch, and relax with some Netflix and takeout Chinese food. You reach your hand into your purse or coat pocket and it hits you: you left your keys inside.
This happens more in New York City than in many other locales. Why? Because so many of us don’t drive in the city. When you drive, your house keys are almost always on the same keychain as your car keys. But when you don’t need a car to get you to where you need to go, it’s a lot easier to forget your keys on your way out of the house, especially if your door locks itself when you exit.
Depending on the neighborhood you live in, being locked out of your house can be a scary experience, particularly if it’s at night. You feel vulnerable and alone. You might feel awkward when people pass by, or worry that you look suspicious lurking around your front door, trying to jimmy the lock open––what if someone thinks you’re a burglar and calls the police?! Sure, in the grand scheme of things, being locked out of your house isn’t the biggest disaster you can face, but when you’re in the moment, it can really feel that way. Someday you might look back on this and laugh or have a funny story to tell at parties, but now? Right now, you just want to cry.
If you get locked out of your home, here’s what to do.
1. Call a Friend, Family Member, or Your Landlord
First, if you live with a partner, family member, or roommate, call them––you know they have a key and if they’re available, they’ll be able to help you get into your house or apartment faster than any other option listed here.
Are you a renter? Use your phone to find the number for the rental office or landlord and call them for help. Most landlords and rental agencies keep spare keys on hand and as long as they know you, they’ll be happy to let you in––well, maybe not if it’s midnight, but it comes with the territory of being a landlord, right?
When you’ve gone on vacation or traveled for business, did you have a friend or family member come to your house to care for your pets or plants? Or do you have someone close to you who you’ve given your house key to, just in case? Now’s the time to call everyone who has one of your spare keys to see if they’re available to let you back into your home.
2. See If a Window Is Open
You should never leave windows or back doors open when you’re not home––it’s not safe and it makes it easier for burglars to break into your house. Of course, if you did forget to close your windows and lock your back door before leaving on this particular day, it works in your favor because you now have a potential way to get into your house when you’re locked out of the front.
The easiest solution would be walking right in through the back door. What a relief it would be to find that door unlocked! Odds are, though, that you won’t be that lucky. If anything, you might have a window that’s open. If you carry a Swiss army knife or have something else on hand that’s sharp enough to cut a screen, you’ll have to do that first. Then, push the window up to give yourself the room you need to climb through.
Use extreme caution when trying to enter a house in this way, particularly if the window is far from the ground. Be prepared to explain yourself to random passers-by, who will probably assume you’re attempting to break into someone else’s home.
3. Ask a Neighbor For Help––Or a Warm Place to Stay
This is the type of situation when you’ll be thankful you’ve been friendly with your neighbors. (Conversely, if you haven’t been friendly with your neighbors, you’ll end up kicking yourself for not making more of an effort.) If you happen to live next to someone who’s a handy type, they might be happy to help you get in. Ask them for a wire hanger, a screwdriver, or a shoestring to help you unlock the door.
If your neighbor isn’t handy, you can still knock on their door and see if you can hang out at their house while you wait to get back into yours. This is especially helpful when it’s raining, snowing, too hot, or too cold to be outside for long.
4. Break Out Your Credit Card
You’ve seen it on TV, now it’s time to try it in real life––see if you can open your door with a credit, debit, or ID card. The key here (no pun intended) is to make sure the card you use is made with thick plastic. Your accountant’s business card isn’t going to do the trick here, nor will your coffee shop loyalty card.
Wedge your card between the door and the frame. While doing this, jiggle and press the handle forcefully. Alternatively, you can attempt to hit the locking mechanism with your card and then press it to unlock the door. This is a real MacGyver move here, so if it works, give yourself a pat on the back.
5. Take Apart the Door Knob
Unless you’re in a trade, you likely don’t leave the house with a set of tools. This is another situation in which you’ll need to get some help from your friendly neighbor.
There are different types of door knobs that assemble (or in this case, disassemble) in different ways. That said, most can be taken apart using a paperclip, hammer, and screwdriver. With the screwdriver, take off all the screws that hold the handle in place, then remove the hinge screws using your paperclip.
Once you take apart your door knob and get into your home or apartment, it’s important to put it back together right away to prevent any unwanted visitors from entering your home.
6. Break In
Desperate times call for desperate measures. If you have young children alone inside or another reason that you need to get back in immediately, this may be the best solution.
Because this will undoubtedly create quite the scene if there are people out and about, break in through a back door or window if you have one, rather than going in through the front. Applying a swift, hard kick to the door near the knob may be enough to get in. We don’t advise breaking windows because of the danger involved, so reserve this for actual emergency situations. Needless to say, climbing through a broken window is quite risky and it’s actually more difficult to break a window these days than you might think.
7. Contact an Emergency Locksmith
Before taking apart your doorknob or breaking down the door, call Your Local Locksmith. A residential locksmith in Midtown Manhattan, Your Local Locksmith NY offers emergency locksmith services to help you get you back in your home fast.
When you call us, here’s what happens. Our dispatcher answers your call. It doesn’t matter if it’s 3pm or 3am––we operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even on holidays. We understand that emergencies aren’t limited to business hours. Once you share your location and explain the situation, we’ll have one of our skilled locksmiths drive out to your home to help you get back in.
Locksmiths carry special tools that allow us to open up locked doors without keys in a way that keeps the integrity of your door lock intact. Most doors can be opened in this way, meaning you won’t need to replace your doorknob or lock after we’re done working. In unusual cases, we may need to drill to remove the lock or doorknob, and then replace either the cylinder or the entire lock. Luckily, this is rare.
Locksmiths work quickly to get you back into your house or apartment. They’re also affordable, particularly when compared with the cost of replacing a window screen or a door that you’ve kicked down! While it doesn’t hurt to try to jimmy your lock with a credit card and it certainly makes sense to call friends and family who have spare copies of your house key, before doing anything destructive to your home, it’s best to call a locksmith. You’ll be glad you did.
Call For a Home Locksmith in Midtown Manhattan
If you’re in Midtown Manhattan––or anywhere else in New York City––and you’ve locked yourself out of your home, you need help fast. Contact Your Local Locksmith NY and we’ll send assistance right away to get you back in your home quickly and safely. Give us a call at 347-801-2481 for an immediate quote and prompt, professional service.