Unlocking locked doors or getting your child out of the bathroom

Hello everyone:

A friend of mine had a small child who locked herself in the bathroom when we had gone over to another friend’s house for craft time. We did not realize the child was missing until we took a break for snacks.

The recently-potty trained child had tried to take care of business herself but the house and its locks were old and the little girl did not know how to get out of the bathroom once she was inside. We knew nothing about tools and had to call 911 to extricate the child from her dilemma.

If you would like to avoid having fire trucks show up at your place, I will guide you through the tools you need to have on hand and will end with how to remove a locked door.

You need to have the following items in your tool box: two screwdrivers (Phillips head and flat head), pliers, wire cutters, picture hangers, wrenches, a hammer, and duct tape.

My sister-in-law also finds that a retraceable exacto-type knife comes in handy because when the blade gets dull, you can break it off and a new one appears.

Here’s the thing about tools: you get what you pay for. If you buy cheap tools, they will not last and you will end up frustrated when they cannot do what you need them to do. If you buy Sears Craftsman tools, they come with a lifetime warranty and Sears will replace them if they break.

Your toddler or grandchild has just locked him or herself in your bathroom. Short of calling 911, how do you get the child out? It depends on the type of doorknob that you have (and how old it is). If it is a relatively new doorknob, you should have a small hole in the center of the handle. These locks usually came with a key-type piece of metal. It is recommended that you keep this metal key on top of your door frame, in case of emergency. Rub your hand over the top of the door, to see if your key is there. If it is, poke the piece of metal into the door knob until you hear a “click.” The door should now be unlocked. If you have a flat-sided key, then you may have to poke it into the handle and turn the key in order to get the door to unlock.

With some older doors, there is no hole to poke into the handle. Grab a Phillips head screwdriver (the one that looks like a starburst on the tip) and head towards the door. Remove the screws on the side of the handle that are visible from your side of the door. [Note: Keep the screws local- you will need them after you get the child out of the room.] Reach into the lock mechanism and unlock the door. Plan on putting the handle back on the door after the child is freed. You will do this by putting the screws you took out a few minutes ago, putting them back on the handle area, and screwing them back into place.

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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