By: Brandon Smith owner of B's Lock & Key Columbia, MO
1: Carry a key, don't rely on your garage opener remote.
Many of us come in and out of our homes through the garage. It's so convenient, one click and your door just seems to magically open! That is, until the power goes out because of a storm or your remote dies unexpectedly. What if someone picks you up to give you a ride? We see it all the time.
2: Make sure one key fits all of your locks.
This typically happens over time, we put a pretty lock on the front door, or we have replaced knobs or deadbolts one at a time, or even just bought a new place and that's how it came. Have your locks re-keyed so that the same key fits them all, and as long as they are comparable brands, you can keep the perfectly good locks you have. A locksmith can usually do this very quickly, and it's fairly inexpensive. This way you don't have to carry a boatload of keys and look like you mugged a janitor, and life is just a little bit more simple.
3: Trust the deadbolt.
Most people out there have one of these combinations; A) Locking knob/lever with a deadbolt, B) Handle-set or passage knob/lever (passage means that it doesn't have a locking mechanism, it's always free) with a deadbolt, or finally C) Just a locking knob, just waiting for a credit card to bypass it. It never ceases to amaze me how many doors are not properly adjusted, I would guess about half to 2/3's of the residential doors I see are able to be simply bypassed with a credit card. That's why I usually recommend to go with option b; the two main reasons being that with a deadbolt, you can't accidentally lock the knob then shut the door, you had to have had a key to lock the deadbolt. Secondly, most of your security comes from the deadbolt anyway, especially if the knob isn't adjusted properly.
4: Keep a spare key in your car or in a lock-box.
Everyone has more than likely seen those fancy little lock-boxes that realtors use when selling a home. They are a pain in the neck when it goes to opening or closing the door though right? Not to mention, they are hideous. Well, what if you had a railing on the back side of your house to clamp that puppy on instead so its out of site, or even better, they make a small yet nice looking box you can mount somewhere out of site on your home or shed. Enter the 4 number code, and presto, a key fits perfectly inside. If you aren't worried about someone breaking into your car, then there is nothing wrong with keeping a key in the glove-box. Just keep in mind your insurance card has your address on it if someone does break in.
5: Fix your lock at the first sign of a problem.
If you have ever put a key in a lock and it feels tight to turn, draggy or if you key starts catching, those are all signs that something isn't right. So fix it now, not after your key breaks off in the lock or the lock finally bites the dust and you get stuck out side. You know it's going either be the coldest day of the year, or pouring down rain when it finally breaks. Call a locksmith, explain whats going on, and they will be able to give you good advice on how to fix the problem. It could be a simple as needing a new key or lubricating the lock. Doors often move up and down slightly with weather changes and minor door or strike adjustments can make an old lock work like new again.
We hope these tips come in handy and save you the headache of getting locked out of your house, but stuff happens and we have all been there. Yes, myself (a locksmith) included. Find a good, reputable locksmith and save their number in your phone. Avoid the $15 special ads you see on Google as you likely end up paying way more. Pick a locksmith that has a physical address listed in your town, and make sure they quote a price as an honest locksmith will know what they need to charge for the job almost always before they come. Finally, use online reviews and see what people are saying about the locksmiths in your area.