Avoiding Lockouts With A Hidden Key

Avoiding Lockouts With A Hidden Key

When I wrote this post initially in 2010, it was before the days of smart homes and locks. Even though I now have a smart lock on the door, I still have a key hidden as below to avoid lockouts…because batteries and electronics can fail. For those living where you cannot change the locks, this is still relevant.

I’ve never been a fan of leaving house keys hidden in the yard. But I’ve come to realize that having backup keys around are a good idea.

Our next door neighbor has a key to the house, as does our former nanny. I thought this was good enough to prevent me being locked out. Turns out I was wrong.

The Story Of How We Got Locked Out

My husband locks doors out of habit. I do not lock the house doors if I am out in the yard working. So while my daughter was at a neighbor’s house, I was working in the yard, and my husband was working in the attic. I left the door between the house and garage unlocked as I was going back and forth to get things. My keys were inside.

I went to pick up my daughter, and my husband came down to the garage to get something. When my daughter and I returned, the door to the house was locked.

I rang the doorbell. I pounded on the door. I went to a neighbor’s and called his cell and the house phone. I honked the horns of the car. Nothing. He wasn’t hearing any of it in the attic space…and his cell phone wasn’t anywhere near him.

What about the spare keys? The neighbor who had it was out of town. The other neighbor who had the first neighbor’s keys was also out of town. The nanny was not at home. We were out of luck. (See the bottom of the article for how I finally attracted his attention).

The Solution

I realized then we needed a key hidden in the garage. Since the garage can be opened both with the door opener and the keypad on the garage, I felt this was the best place to put the key.

I didn’t want to do anything obvious like a lockbox, or one of those fake-and-obvious hiding places like the plastic rocks. I wanted to make the key difficult to find. So with a bit of packing tape, I picked the back of a cabinet up against the wall. It was big enough space to get my hand in, but too heavy to move easily. I taped the key out of sight in the back. It can be reached, but only with a struggle and only if you know the key is there. It cannot be seen, because there is no way anyone can get back there and look.

The End of the Story

After trying for 45 minutes to get my husband’s attention, I was about to go to the neighbor’s to spend the afternoon, leaving a note on the door. But my eye fell on the circuit breaker box. So I walked over and flipped the switches off for the attic.

After a few minutes, I switched them back on again, because my husband had taken a nasty fall earlier in the year and I didn’t want him to fall again. But on not hearing any footsteps coming down, I switched the breakers off again.

It did the trick. My husband came down to figure out why the circuits were acting so strangely. He thought he would find a fried circuit. Instead he found a cooked goose. ๐Ÿ™‚


  1. Brandy

    my back windows are unlocked most of the time. its very inconveinent to a burgler. i could get a ladder, lift up the screen and get in (i have 2 dogs and am home most of the time so its safe).

    i did spend 4 hours at sams a couple saturdays back. we lost our keys in the store. i retraced my steps, but didnt find them. i called 3 cabs and none showed up (dont know why). sams is too far from home to walk. finally a nice employee gave us a lift. (its like 10 miles but too much to walk it). we paid her what we wouldve paid for a cab. we insisted she take it. it was very nice of her. we went back the next day and the keys had been turned in. we had a hiden key and were able to get in the house. it was a mess of a day.

  2. RachelH

    The circuit breaker idea was smart.

    I always keep a spare key in my office. I work at a large university, within walking distance of my house, and it has 24-hour security. So if I get locked out of my house, I can walk to university, get security to let me into my office, and fetch the spare key.

    I used to keep one duct-taped to the top inside of my car glove-box, but that was back when I had a car that was easy (for me) to break into. And then it turned out it was easy for OTHER people to break into too, and they stole my key.

    • LJ

      Ouch! Who would have thought they’d look in the car? And in my state, my address is on my registration, which is in the car. Glad I didn’t think of putting the key there. But then I also have a history of getting locked out of my car by my daughter. Thankfully my Prius will not lock if the keys are inside.

      I like the idea of leaving a key in a place that you can access by walking 24 hours a day. Much better than relying on specific individuals.

      My husband really does lock everything up. Last evening I was out in my screened gazebo with him. He left and locked the hook latch on the outside, locking me inside. Luckily I caught it before he went into the house, or I would have spent all night out there…

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