Locked Out? When to Call for Help and When to Do it Yourself (And How)

We’ve all experienced that dreaded moment of being locked outside of our own home. In many cases, it can be tempting to try and break in. Not only can this damage your door, but it can look suspicious to people passing by if they do not know you. If you must break into your own home, we have a few tips on how to do so. 

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What to do Before Trying to Open the Door Yourself

Attempting to break into your house can leave you with a damaged lock, doorknob, or door frame. If you’re considering hacking your way into your home, walk through these steps first.

1. Get A Spare Key From a Family Member, Friend, or Neighbor

Maybe you lent your key to a neighbor so they could watch your house when you went on vacation. Or maybe you gave a spare key to a friend or family member for this exact reason. Either way, if you’ve given anyone a spare key to your house, see if they can let you in.

2. Call Another House Member

If your house member isn’t home and they aren’t locked outside with you, they more than likely have a key in their possession. Though having a house member come to your rescue is ideal, you may not always have the luxury.

3. Call Your Landlord or Apartment Concierge

If you rent a house or an apartment, it should be fairly easy to get back in. Either your landlord or the office of your apartment complex will have a key to your place. However, if it’s after hours you may be out of luck.

4. Check for an Open Window or Back Door

Though it’s never a good idea to leave any door or window open, it’s worth a shot to check in this case. Do note, however, that if an upstairs window is unlocked, it is not worth it to attempt climbing up your roof to get in. It’s always better to play it safe, even if that means waiting for a locksmith to come to your location.

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When Should You Do it Yourself? And How.

If you do attempt to unlock your door yourself, be sure you have an adequate reason to do so. If you’re truly in a time pinch and can’t wait for a technician to reach you, we have some tips on how you can unlock your front door. However, these methods only work if you have certain tools available – even if those tools are things like a credit card and bobby pins.

1. Use a Credit Card

Credit cards aren’t just for emergency purchases – they can be used to unlock your door in an emergency. Simply place your card between your door and the door frame. Then, press the card away from the doorknob and towards the frame of the door to undo the latch. Keep in mind, this could damage your card so it’s best to use a plastic card you no longer need.

This method will only work on a spring bolt. If you have a deadbolt lock, you’ll need to try a different method.

2. Remove the Doorknob

If you have a Phillips screwdriver, you can try removing it altogether. Unlike other methods, removing the doorknob is non-damaging so it can be a great place to start. However, this method will not work if your doorknob is tamper-proof.

3. Pick the Lock

Picking a lock sounds simple but it can be the most challenging option to unlock your door. You can use this step-by-step method to pick the lock with hairpins but it won’t work as efficiently as professional locksmithing tools would. 

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When to Call a Locksmith

At the end of the day, your best option to unlock your door is to call a professional locksmith. A trained technician will be able to get you back into your home without damaging your locks. Plus, a professional locksmith can make a copy of your house key so you don’t end up in this situation again.

If you wind up locked out of your residential home, a Pop-A-Lock expert will be happy to assist you. Your safety is our number one priority, and we aim to get you back on track quickly, safely, and at an affordable price. For all of your locksmithing needs, your local Pop-A-Lock is here to help!

6 Tips for Keeping Your Valuables Safe While Camping

Whether you live in a big city or not, the hustle and bustle of daily life can be overwhelming for anyone. One of the best ways to disconnect and refresh is to spend time in nature. Camping has many benefits, such as reducing stress, improving sleep and memory, and providing a vitamin D boost.

Unfortunately, if you are worried about criminals (or critters!) stealing your valuables, it can be hard to enjoy the peace and quiet. With these easy tips from Pop-A-Lock, you can keep your valuables safe while enjoying some time in the great outdoors.

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Research the Campground

Before you even start your camping trip, be sure to research the location. Some campgrounds are located deep in nature, away from the main road, and without security measures like patrol, gated entry, or surveillance cameras. This is not to say that you shouldn’t camp at these places, but it is very important to be prepared.

As you research the campground, don’t forget to read the reviews. Campers who have visited the site before will want to warn others if they’ve had a bad experience. Look out for any reviews about stolen valuables. By researching the campground before you go, you’ll have a better understanding of how safe the area is.

Choose the Right Spot

When arriving at the campground, be cautious of where you pitch your tent. Though being secluded from other campers may feel like a peaceful way to start your trip, it can ultimately be more dangerous. If other campers cannot see or hear any activity near your campsite, it will be very easy for a potential thief to get away. It is safest to camp in a well-lit area, especially if there are motion detector lights that can help you stay aware of activity near your tent.

Get to Know Your Neighbors

Once you’ve pitched your tent, be sure to meet your camping neighbors. You’re all in the same boat, so don’t be shy. Offer to keep an eye on their camping gear if they are away for the day and they will do the same for you. Everybody wants to make sure their belongings are safe and you may end up making some good friends in the process.

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Stay Organized

As you unpack your things and get settled into your tent, remember to keep everything centrally located in the center of your campsite. 

It is far easier for an intruder to slip in unnoticed and steal items when they’re spread around the campsite. Plus, you and your family can lose track of your belongings if they are not organized. On the same note, it’s a good idea to do a quick inventory check each time you return to your campsite. 

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Nothing will attract a burglar more than valuables openly lying around your tent. For a comprehensive guide on where to hide valuables in your car, check out this resource. Generally, you will want to store things in your trunk so they are not visible. If you drive an SUV where someone can look into the window of your trunk, consider investing in a trunk shade to hide your belongings. If you have valuables that will fit in the spare wheel well, this can also make for a great hiding spot. 

Whether you’re leaving the campsite for the day or just stepping away to use the facilities, be sure to bring your valuables with you. This may include things like your phones or other electronics, your wallet, and your keys. Other items like lanterns, sleeping bags, and blankets will generally be safe, but it is best to store them inside your tent or in your car.

The bottom line is, you don’t want any of your property lying around the campsite. It’s also extremely important to keep things secure at night. When you go to sleep, put your keys, phone, wallet, and any other valuables in a bag and tuck them into the bottom of your sleeping bag for safe keeping.

Store Your Food Properly

Just like you should put away your valuables when you leave your campsite, you also want to secure your food. Criminals aren’t the only thieves – wildlife may also try to steal your food and potentially damage your belongings.

Storing your food in airtight containers prevents animals from noticing its scent and raiding your campsite while also preserving its quality. Keeping your food off the ground also keeps animals from getting into it. You can either hang your food in a tree or store it in your car. Avoid storing food in your tent as you could risk animals breaking in to retrieve your food leaving you with nowhere to sleep.

The same rule applies to trash. If the campgrounds don’t have a dumpster nearby, be sure to keep your garbage in a secure container off the ground. Storing your food properly will help prevent animals from tracking it down which, in turn, protects your other personal belongings.

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Unwind With These Tips for Keeping Your Valuables Safe

There’s nothing better than escaping for a weekend to enjoy some time outdoors, especially when you follow these protocols to keep your valuables safe. If you wind up locking your keys inside your car with all of your belongings, your local Pop-A-Lock is just a phone call away. Our number one priority is keeping you safe so you can enjoy the activities you love.

How to Prepare for a Natural Disaster – Tips You Shouldn’t Overlook

Regardless of where you live, a natural disaster can happen at any moment. Though heavy snowfall and floods may be anticipated at certain times in the year, it is important to be prepared year-round for unexpected natural events. With these tips, you’ll be prepared for any natural disaster, whether you see it coming or not.

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Battling Blizzards

Blizzards  are most likely to occur during winter in Canada, from December through February. However, a blizzard could pop up anytime between October and May and is more likely to happen in spring than in fall. 

Make sure you have the proper equipment to ward off snow from your home and car. You know the drill — as snow piles up, the only way out of your home is to dig your way out. Having a shovel handy in winter is a necessity if you want to leave your house. If you have a snow blower, make sure it’s working properly and is filled with gas or has a fully charged battery. 

If you attempt to leave the house during a snowstorm, your car needs to be weatherized. Switch out the all-weather tires for winter tires, have tire chains ready, and maintain your vehicle’s tire pressure.

Keep extra blankets and warm clothes handy in case you lose power. You can also line your doors and windows with towels or blankets to further insulate your home.

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Fighting Floods

Floods are the most common, and the most costly, natural disaster in Canada. They may strike at any time of the year and are most often caused by rapidly melting snow or heavy rainfall.

If you ever find yourself at home amid a flood, don’t drink the tap water. Tap water can become contaminated during floods and is no longer safe. You should also avoid standing water and floodwater outside. Floodwater can carry disease, be contaminated with sewage, or conceal dangerous objects.

General Safety Suggestions

Though floods and blizzards are to be expected, it’s best practice to be prepared for any natural disaster. Here are some tips to keep you safe in your home, no matter the issue.

Secure Important Documents

Passports, social security cards, and other important documents run the risk of getting destroyed during natural disasters. Make sure they’re properly stored in a safe that can protect them from water damage and fire. If you’ve yet to invest in a safe, these guidelines will help you purchase your first one.

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Stock Up on Water and Nonperishable Food

You’ll want to prepare supplies to last at least a week. Load up on canned foods – the kind that can be eaten cold if you don’t have electricity. Nuts and nut butter, granola bars, and dried fruits are also ideal to keep on hand. Also, be sure to keep plenty of extra water on hand. As we mentioned, tap water can be unsafe to drink during floods, and water lines are often turned off when temperatures are below freezing.

Stay Charged and Fueled

Don’t let your tank run on empty. Keep your car fueled up, especially when anticipating a natural disaster like a snowstorm. If the roads are flooded or icy, gas stations may run out of gas because it’s harder for large fuel trucks to travel safely. Keep your phone fully charged in case your electricity goes out and you need it for an emergency.

Have a First-Aid Kit Ready

Having a first-aid kit is important, whether you’re preparing for a natural disaster or not. First aid kits can be purchased for as little as $20, and the added protection is worth the investment. Make sure your medicine cabinet has any other essentials you may need. And don’t forget to refill any vital prescription medications!

Keep Extra Batteries

Keep extra batteries on hand so you’re not left in the dark if your flashlights die. You’ll also want to have several flashlights in your home, preferably spread out throughout the house so you can access them from any room. Portable phone chargers (that are fully charged) are also a great thing to have – you never know how long a power outage may last.

Don’t wait until the forecast warns you about a natural event coming your way. Prepare for any natural disaster to come, by following these guidelines. For more tips on keeping your home secure this winter, head over to our website!