Thursday, September 11, 2014

Let's Talk Spare Keys and Where to Hide Them

You know when the worst time to need a spare key is? That's right: When you don't have one or can't find one.

I don't really see or hear many people talk or write about the need for spare keys, but almost every one of us will need one at one time or another. Most of the time it is when we are on the front porch and the door is locked, or when your toddler has hidden your key ring, or, god forbid, when you lost them at the lake on July 4th at the family barbecue.

We all get keys when we change our locks, so let's start by talking about when you should change your locks:

  • After a break in
  • If you suspect someone has been in your house
  • If your purse or wallet is stolen
  • If your car is broken into
  • If you misplace your spare or your key ring
  • Anytime your lock sticks (even after WD40 or oil is sprayed into it), it is hinky, or it fails
  • Anytime you move into a new place

Ok, now let's talk spare keys. Spare keys never really crossed my mind until I needed one. I had a spare set that I left with a neighbor because leaving a key under the front mat is just not a smart idea, However, just when I most needed said key my neighbor was out of town! There is nothing more frustrating than knowing the comfort and security of your home is just on the other side of the door and you can't get in! Ugh! It was this very situation that made me realize that I needed to keep my spare key close at hand, but invisible to others. Research led me to some clever ideas other's have come up with for stashing this most important spare treasure.

Here are some ways to store those keys so that you will have them available when you need them:

Thrifty Fun
Under a Rock:  This old standby is only good if you have rocks around your house and this rock is a match. If you would like to make your own hide-a-rock, I found this DIY on Pinterest:
Built In Lock Box: Similar in idea to lock boxes that real estate agents rely on, this is a lock box that you attach to your home or a structure close by, like your garage. It has a combination lock and enough space inside to stash a key. I think this might be a good idea for stashing a $20 bill for emergencies as well.

Lock & Key Center
Behind Your Car's License Plate: This is my favorite clever idea for storing your key from Lock and Key Center. Just unscrew one of the screws, slip the screw through the key and tighten it back down. It stays hidden behind the plate and is easy to access when you need it in an emergency. If you don't have a way to enlarge the key hole to fit the screw, just tape it on the back using packing tape or something equally as strong. Just remember not to forget to retrieve it prior to selling your vehicle!

I am sure there are many more clever ways to hide your key than I have listed here. The important thing is that you actually have a spare key. Calling a locksmith or replacing that window you had to break to get in is much more expensive than the $5 or less it will take to make a spare and the few minutes to stash it.

Here are some tips for the keys themselves:

  • Color code spare (and everyday keys) by coloring them with nail polish
  • Have custom keys made that are painted with designs that make them unique
  • Have a specific key on a specific key chain to help identify it, but don't label keys in a way that a thief or someone shady would be able to use

Finally, here is a cool video on how to make a key out of a plastic bottle. These keys would be thin enough to tuck away in a wallet or slip in between a tight spot somewhere convenient. They are weather resistant (won't rust) and easy to replace. Just remember the key stash rule of thumb: If you hide it in an obvious spot, someone else would be able to find it as well. Think beyond the front door welcome mat.