As the door closes behind you, you ponder (or yell!) about what you want to say. Or maybe you’ve just arrived home after a hard day at work and are searching through your handbag or pockets for your keys, only to discover that there is no jingling or jangling to be heard in any of them. You go through another door and then maybe a couple of windows. Locked up, locked up, and more locked up. Then it soon becomes clear to you that you’ve been locked out of your own home.

It doesn’t matter how it occurs; learning we’ve been locked out of our house is one of those stomach-churning moments that comes to almost everyone at some point in their lives—and almost always at the most inopportune time. However, even though it’s annoying, there are actions you can do to assist you in getting back inside more quickly and steps you can take to avoid this from occurring again.

What to do if you realize that you’ve been locked out of your house or apartment

After your session of criticizing, sobbing, or otherwise venting your emotions, take a big breath and think about your alternatives for the next few minutes. The following are some items that may be of assistance in getting you back inside:

Check all of the doors and windows twice.

Check every door and accessible window one more time. In your initial emotional state, it’s possible that you overlooked an unlocked door, which might turn out to be a costly blunder if you wind up having to contact a locksmith.

Make a list of everyone who could have a spare key to your home.

Consider everyone who could have a spare key. Your spouse or roommate possibly owns one, or perhaps you donated one to a neighbor to feed your fish while you were gone on your most recent trip. Have you given one to a family member to have on hand in case of an emergency? Contact anybody who may have one and see if you can make arrangements to get one.

Determine if there is a lock that you can pick.

When you understand how easy it is to get into your own house, this method may not make you feel as safe as you would want, but you can worry about that later. To get in right now, you may try to use a credit card or other similar plastic card to pry open the door. It’s explained in detail in this video, but the process essentially comes down to slipping the card between the door and frame, then bending the card toward the door frame (away from the doorknob) to release the latch.

Please keep in mind that this approach will not work on deadbolts, just conventional doors. Even more importantly, if this approach succeeds and you are able to get in, be sure to update your lock as soon as possible. If it was that simple for you to get in, imagine how simple it would be for criminals to get in as well.

Take the doorknob off the hinges.

If you are familiar with a toolbox and have access to a few tools, you may be able to remove the doorknob in order to gain entry into your house with relative ease. There are several guides available online to assist you with removing a doorknob but proceed with caution. If you manage to break the lock or otherwise damage your door while attempting to open it, you may wind up spending more money than you would have if you had just phoned a locksmith.

Obtain the services of a locksmith

A locksmith may be required as a final option in certain cases. It provides the highest assurance that you will get admitted, but it is also the most costly option. According to where you reside and the kind of lock you have, the cost will vary. It is possible that you may be charged an additional price for an emergency call. Most local locksmiths provide an emergency lockout service that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so they can come to you fast. When you call, the sooner you will be back inside your house! A competent locksmith can unlock any kind of lock, whether you’re locked out of an apartment or a home, and can do it quickly and efficiently. The expense of hiring a locksmith and changing a lock, on the other hand, will be less expensive than the cost of replacing an entire window. Even though being locked out of your home is a frustrating experience, being able to enter will make you feel better.

When you’re locked out, don’t do these things.

While you may be frantic to get inside, refrain from making hasty judgments such as shattering a window, which might result in a significant financial loss. Aside from that, it may be far more difficult to arrange an emergency visit from someone who can fix your window fast than it would be to arrange an appointment with a locksmith.

In addition, don’t do what this Tucson guy did when he was locked out: he attempted to gain entry into his home by his chimney. The following is a spoiler: he became trapped and had to be rescued by the fire brigade.

The best way to prevent being locked out of your home.

Having discovered your mistake, you want to make certain that you don’t have to learn that lesson again. You may take the following precautions to prevent being locked out of your home in the future:

Keep a spare key in a secure location.

No, don’t place it beneath your doormat or under the flower pot on your front porch since this is considered inappropriate. Moreover, if you believe that the false rock is deceiving anybody, you are deceiving yourself as well. As an alternative to leaving a key in a visible location, try storing it someplace more secure, such as a safe in your garage or a container protected with a combination lock. Small safes may be found for relatively little money in a variety of retailers and on the internet. In the event that your dog spends most of his time outdoors, another more imaginative approach is to place a key in a pouch and link it to his collar.

Entrust one of your closest friends or neighbors with the key

While you don’t want a slew of keys to your house lying about, providing one or two to individuals you trust is a fantastic backup plan in case of an emergency. If you have family members who live in the area, make sure one of them has a spare key to your residence. The most straightforward method is to hand over a duplicate key to a neighbor you know and trust or to an acquaintance who lives close by; for friends whose homes are difficult by walking, attempt to remember their phone numbers as much as possible. You’ll be able to get back into the home the next time you forget where you put your keys, even if you forget where you put your phone as well.

Consider making the switch to keyless entry.

It is possible that keyless entry pads will be a worthwhile investment. They’re particularly useful if you have children who are prone to misplacing their keys (read: all children) or if you want to provide access to different persons at different times, such as house visitors, without giving out a large number of keys. If you want to change the passcode, you may always do it without having to update your locks first—an electronic keypad lock on one of your doors is a more permanent solution. With or without keys, you’ll always be able to get into the building using a programmable access code.

The bottom line is to be prepared in the event that you are locked out of your house or apartment.

Getting locked out of your house is never a pleasant experience, but there is always a method to get back in. The questions are how soon it will happen, how much it will cost, and how much it will cost. Take steps now to save time, money, and a whole lot of stress in the future. That way, the next time you grab your keys and don’t locate them, you can breathe a sigh of relief knowing you have a strategy in place to get them back. Don’t worry if you find yourself in a position where you are locked out of your house. Instead, refresh your memory on the tips and tactics on what to do if you find yourself locked out of your home. Furthermore, the guidelines will be beneficial in the long term.

You can address this issue on your own or with the assistance of family members or a professional if you follow the correct methods to do so. You will also be able to see what modifications need to be made to the security of your home in order to prevent burglaries.