It happens to everyone at least once: you get home after a long day, only to realize you don’t have your key. Or perhaps you were stepping outside for just a moment, when you hear the ominous click of the door accidentally closing behind you, and you realize you’ve locked your keys in the house. Getting locked out brings an inevitable sense of dread and panic, but let us reassure you that you’ll be able to get back into your house. The most straightforward way to get back in is often to call a locksmith, but there are some solutions you can try yourself first.

If You’re Locked Out Of Your House, Here Is What You Should Do

Find a Spare Key

If you’ve left a spare key somewhere outside, now is its time to shine! You’ll be able to unlock your door in a jiffy. For the future, make sure that spare key isn’t in an obvious hiding spot like under the doormat or flower pot. Fake rocks can be easy to spot as well. Instead, look for a small outdoor key safe that requires a combination to open.

Call a Friend or Family Member with a Key

Maybe you don’t have a spare key, but someone else does. This might be someone obvious, like a spouse or roommate, or it could be a trusted neighbor. If you’re locked out of an apartment, you can contact your landlord. Or think back to the last time you had someone housesit or feed your pet – do they still have a key? Give them a call and confess, “I’m locked out” – everyone’s been there. If you’ve locked your phone inside, try asking a neighbor if you can borrow theirs.

Try Doors and Windows

You might not be able to unlock the front door, but there could be another door or window that’s open. Check every reachable opening, including patio doors and basement windows. If you have a pet door, you might even try squeezing through or reaching your arm in to unlock the door from inside. Of course, you’ll want to remember any open point of entry later on. Being locked out of your house forces you to think like a robber trying to break in – if you find an opening, they could too. So you’ll want to lock any of those openings up in the future to keep your home secure.

Pop a Lock Using a Credit Card

This trick isn’t just for TV sleuths – if you’re locked out, you may be able to use a simple credit card to unlock your front door. This trick only works for a standard spring bolt, not a deadbolt. So if your front door uses a dead bolt, try a different door in your house. Choose a thicker card, and slide it between the door and doorframe at the doorknob. Then slowly bend the card towards the frame – it should push the bolt open. This may take a few tries. And remember – however easy it was for you to open the door, it will be easier for a burglar who may be experienced in how to unlock a door.

Call a Locksmith to Open your House Door

If none of these solutions work for you or you’re worried about looking like you’re trying to break into your own home, it might be time to call a locksmith. Getting into a house when you’re locked out is one of a locksmith’s specialties. Most local locksmiths offer an around-the-clock emergency lockout service, meaning they can get to you quickly. The sooner you call, the faster you’ll be back inside your home! A professional locksmith can open any kind of lock, whether you’re locked out of an apartment or a house. Most locks can be picked using a set of professional tools. Higher-security locks may have to be drilled in order to get them open, in which case you’ll need to replace the lock. Still, the cost of hiring a locksmith and replacing a lock will be more affordable than replacing an entire window. It’s always unfortunate to get locked out of your house, but you’ll be relieved to be back in.

What NOT to Do When You’re Locked out of Your House

Unless it’s an emergency – like an injured kid or pet inside, do not break a window in order to get back in. Calling a locksmith will always be cheaper and faster than repairing a broken window. You’re also likely to injure yourself breaking a window and climbing into your house. You should also avoid attempting entry through any dangerous points, such as a second-story window. Saving the small amount of money a locksmith costs is not worth a broken leg or neck.

How to Prevent Future Lockouts

If you never want to have to wonder “What do I do if I’m locked out of my house?” again, there are a few preventative steps you can take to plan for the future. The simplest is to give a copy of your key to a neighbor you trust or a friend who lives nearby. If it’s a friend whose house you can’t walk to, try to memorize their phone number. That way, you’ll be able to get back in next time you lock your keys in the house, even if you lock your phone inside too. Another solution is to set up an electronic keypad lock on one of your doors. With or without keys, you’ll always be able to get inside with a customizable code.