Getting locked out is no fun. Don’t make it worse!
Guest post by Simon Davies
Finding yourself locked out of your home is enough to make even the most level-headed person panic. In a frantic attempt to get back into their homes, the people of London have followed through with awful decisions which are more common than you may think.
Whether you’re new to the fine city, or a long-time Londoner, prepare to be shocked, entertained and educated. You’ll learn about the not-so-obvious scams you could fall prey to, who not to contact in the event of a home lockout and how to prepare for the unexpected.
#1 | Calling the Fire Brigade
Between 2010 and 2015, the London Fire Brigade spent more than £9.5 million of taxpayers’ money dealing with calls from people who found themselves locked in or out of their homes. Figures released from the London Fire Brigade found that ‘locked out calls’ happened 16 times a day on average, and revealed that over half of all calls were not deemed as emergencies when crew arrived to the scene.
Calling a locksmith is preferable to diverting emergency services to your home for three reasons:
- Firefighters may have more important fire-related emergencies to attend
- Firefighters might not even turn up if they don’t consider your case to be an emergency
- Firefighters are not primarily trained to pick locks
If you’re amazed that those reasons had to be spelled out, you need to understand that the poor London Fire Brigade has had to deal with a number of strange requests from people locked and trapped in unusual places. People have been getting stuck in libraries, toilets and kitchen appliances and asking the fire brigade to respond. In the two years between 2009 and 2011, the fire brigade was called to 276 adults locked in toilets, 12 people locked in cemeteries, a woman stuck in a fridge, and even a man shut in a freezer.
#2 | Breaking into your own home
Gaining entry through force, such as through your own window “may be a natural thought when faced with being locked out” says a guide from Banham, a London security firm. Unsurprisingly, they advise against breaking into your own home, whether this is by shimmying in through your window or by picking your locks. Even if you do manage to get in through your windows, you risk injuring yourself, damaging belongings and even invalidating your home insurance.
Despite breaking into your own home sounding like a terrible idea, there are a number of online articles, including a WikiHow, that appear to encourage it. Some articles offer tips on how best to force your way back inside using a credit card. Thankfully, this Hollywood trick only works in the films, and not on a real locked front door. To quote Banham, “Anyone who tries this is more likely to end up without access to their card or home.”
#3 | Rushing to hire a locksmith
Even if you do call a locksmith to come and help you get back into your home, it’s important to make sure that you haven’t called a cowboy locksmith. Conmen masquerading as professional locksmiths could land you in hot water, by overcharging you or by damaging your front door and lock. Or indeed both.
Sadly, London is teeming with rogue locksmiths, so you must ensure that the locksmith you choose is as reputable as possible. Seeing as the industry is unregulated, using a professional who is clearly licensed is a good idea.
To prepare for the worst, it would be wise to research locksmiths sooner rather than later, and have the number of a good emergency locksmith ready in your phone before you need it. This can help you stay calm if you ever find yourself locked out of your home, and can make sure that you don’t fall seriously out of pocket.