Category Archives: Uncategorized

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How to Get a Broken Key out of a Door

Category : Uncategorized

how to get a broken key out of a door

It’s Monday morning. You’ve made it through rush-hour traffic and are ready to get a jump on the week.

You step up to your company door, put the key in the lock and turn.

As you go to pull the key from the lock, you realize it won’t move.

You twist and pull again.

Still nothing.

At this point, most people begin to panic. They start pulling at the key and shaking the lock. They call someone or search for the number of a locksmith who’s answering calls early in the morning.

There’s an easier way.

If this has happened to you, you might be able to resolve the problem yourself and get your work back on track.

Tips for Removing a Key Stuck in a Lock

tips for removing a key stuck in a lock

The best thing you can do when your key gets stuck in a lock is to stay calm and assess the situation. After all, whether you fix it yourself or end up calling a professional, you need to understand what’s happened to your key before you can move forward. To determine the best course of action, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is my key broken or is it in one piece?
  2. If my key is broken, did it break in such a way that all of the cuts are still in the lock or are some of them on the piece in my hand?
  3. Do I have access to tools and other items I may need to remove the key?
  4. Is there a co-worker or trusted neighbor nearby who can help me?
  5. Will my business be secure if I need to leave the key in place while I go to the store to get the supplies I need?

This last one is particularly important, because, depending on how the key is stuck in the lock — whether it turned far enough that the door can be unlocked — it may not be safe to leave your business unattended. If all of the key’s cuts are inside of the lock, and someone could turn it with a screwdriver to open the door, then ask someone to stand guard while you run to the store.

When Your Key Is Stuck — But in One Piece

when you key is stuck but in one piece

Once you’ve answered these questions, you can then turn your attention to the task at hand. If your key is intact, then the good news is that this scenario is relatively common. It’s also easily resolved. When a whole key gets stuck in the lock, it typically happens for one of these reasons:

  • Your key is new and has small, rough “burrs” that become caught in the locking mechanism.
  • Your key is old and warped, which allowed it to get caught inside of the lock.
  • Your lock itself is old or has pieces that have become loose over time.

Regardless of the culprit, the first thing you should do is stop and take a deep breath. If you start to panic and start to shake the key, you risk breaking it off in the lock. You could also do more damage to the lock itself. It will be easier to remove the key if it’s in one piece.

Once you’re calm, how do you get a broken key out of the door? You’ll need to try a few steps methodically.

1. Push the Keyhole Plug

First, try to push the keyhole plug, which is the small metal circle that surrounds the keyhole and, in this case, your key itself. If the plug is loose, it can sometimes cause the key to become stuck in the lock. To push the plug — and hopefully free your key — you’ll need to:

  1. Make sure the key is pushed into the lock as far as it will go.
  2. Turn the key back to the original spot it was in when you inserted it into the lock. This helps the pin tumblers to align correctly, which is essential to opening the lock and removing your key.
  3. While still holding the key with one hand, use your other hand to push gently on the plug just next to the key itself.
  4. As you push, gently turn the key and pull it out.

Many times, this is all you’ll need to remove a key that’s stuck.

2. Lubricate the Lock

When you have a new key, it sometimes still has little burrs that can get caught on the lock pins. When this happens, some extra lubrication can help free your key and prevent it from getting stuck again. A spray lubricant or a graphite powder is all you need. Many people keep this on hand, but if you don’t have a can nearby, it’s easily found at any hardware or big box store.

To apply lubricant or graphite powder to your lock:

  1. If using a spray lubricant, attach the plastic tubing that came with the can to achieve a more precise spray.
  2. Spray or squeeze a generous amount of lubricant or powder into the lock along both sides of the key.
  3. Wait one minute to allow the lubricant or powder to take hold, then gently turn the key as you normally would and remove it.

Once the key is free from the lock, make sure to spray more lubricant or squeeze more powder into the keyhole to prevent future incidents. If you suspect that your new key was the culprit, take the key to a hardware store or key maker to be buffed and have those burrs removed so that they won’t cause problems down the road.

3. Push the Rim Cylinder

If a lubricant doesn’t help, you may have a loose rim cylinder — the round metal part surrounding the keyhole and plug — which is supposed to stay still when the key turns. When the rim cylinder is loose, it can sometimes turn with the key, preventing the lock from turning. You can easily correct this by stabilizing the rim.

  1. Use one hand to push the rim cylinder in toward the door.
  2. Use your other hand to turn your key and gently pull it from the lock.

If you do identify a loose rim cylinder as the culprit, you can attempt to repair it later or, if the lock is older, it may simply be time to replace the entire lock.

Other Hacks

If your key is stuck, and not broken, but you don’t have lubricant handy, you can also try one of these hacks to get your key free:

  1. Wrap a couple of ice cubes in a plastic baggie and hold them up to the key, as close to the lock hole as you can. In warm weather, this can cause the metal of the key to contract just enough that you can pull it gently from the lock. In colder weather, this may not work as well, so use your best judgment in determining whether this is worth a try.
  2. When it gets cold, moisture or dirt can become frozen inside of your lock, causing your key to become stuck. If you suspect this is the reason your key won’t come out of the lock, your best bet is to purchase lock de-icer and apply it to your lock.

When Your Key Is Stuck And Broken

Unfortunately, sometimes a key gets stuck in a lock because it breaks inside. Or, sometimes a stuck key can become broken in the process of trying to remove it from a lock. When this happens, people can often assume the worst and immediately call a locksmith. While it certainly can become necessary to call a professional, this does not need to be the first thing you do. Before you call and say, “Help! I’ve just broken my key inside the lock,” there are many things you can do to attempt to remove your broken key on your own.

Try these steps first:

  1. Spray or squeeze a small amount of lubricant or graphite powder into the lock hole.
  2. If your key broke in such a way that some of the key’s cuts — the ridges that align with the locking mechanism — are on the part that is not inside of the lock, then the key was not able to engage with the lock. Using a pair of needlenose pliers, grab the visible end of the key in the lock and gently pull it out.
  3. If the key broke in a way that all of the cuts are inside of the lock, then the lock may have been partially engaged before the key broke. Insert a small screwdriver into the lock and turn it back to its original position. Then use pliers to pull out the key. If this is the case, never leave the key and lock unattended. If you can insert a screwdriver into the lock, so can someone intent on breaking into your business. If you need to step away from the door to run to the store for lubricant or tools, ask a co-worker or trusted neighbor to keep an eye on your business.
  4. If the pliers don’t do the trick, pop over to your local hardware store and purchase a broken key extractor kit. These kits are relatively inexpensive, and they come with a variety of tools to fit the size of your particular lock. Once you select the tool that’s the right size for your lock, slide it into the lock and pull out the broken part of the key.
  5. If the screwdriver and pliers don’t work, there is one other option before turning to a professional. Insert the blade of a scroll saw or jigsaw into the keyhole. The blade should be facing down. As you push it in, you should feel the blade’s teeth grab onto one of the cuts on the key. When this happens, pull the blade of the saw out of the keyhole. The broken key should come with it.

Tips for Preventing a Key From Getting Stuck

tips for preventing a key from getting stuck

Accidents happen, but it’s relatively simple to prevent your key from breaking and/or getting stuck in a lock. All it takes is a little bit of foresight to follow these steps:

  1. Have a new key made when you notice any wear or bending in your old one. Keeping your key in good condition will prevent breaks.
  2. Pay attention to the condition of your locks. If you notice any loose parts, tighten them.
  3. Spray your locks with lubricant or de-icer every few months to keep the inside of the locks in working order and combat build up of moisture and dirt.

If you do have a key that gets stuck in your lock, use that incident as a prompt to perform some routine maintenance on your locks. Take stock of all the exterior locks around your business — not just the one that ate your key — to make sure that they are in good working order. Finally, make sure you have one or more spare keys you can use if your primary key becomes warped or broken.

When to Contact a Professional

when to contact a professional

When your key gets stuck in a lock, there are many things you can try to attempt to remove it yourself. Hopefully, the steps we’ve explained above are all you need to keep your keys and locks in good working order. But, if you don’t have access to certain tools or you don’t have any luck with these steps, then it may be time to call a professional. A professional locksmith can remove the broken key and, if needed, repair or replace your locks, keeping you and your business safe and sound.

If you do need to call a professional locksmith, it’s critical to call one you can trust. With more than 55 years of experience, Ernie’s Lock Company Inc. is proud to offer high-quality, affordable locksmith services to Prince George’s County, Riverdale Park, and surrounding areas, including the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore Metro areas. Our experienced technicians are skilled in commercial, residential and automotive lock systems of all kinds, and strive to provide our customers with fast service and peace of mind.

What makes Ernie’s unique is that we have a brick-and-mortar location, giving our clients a place to walk in to obtain accurate — and free — estimates if they prefer face-to-face interaction above a phone call. Whether you’re a business owner interested in installing electrical access or master key systems or a homeowner looking to install new locks on your windows and doors, Ernie’s is the one for the job.

Call us today for a free estimate.

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Types of Locks

Category : Uncategorized

In the United States, a home burglary happens every 18 seconds, resulting in an average property loss of more than $2,000.

Scary, isn’t it?

But, what if there was a simple way to improve your home security and lower your risk of a burglary — without installing a security system?

Don’t get us wrong — a high-quality security system is an effective way to protect your home and valuables. But often times, when homeowners are thinking about safety and security, they overlook an equally important form of protection — their locks.

A good lock can make all the difference when it comes to protecting your home or even your business. But a good lock is only good if it’s being used correctly.

The 6 Types of Locks

To use a lock correctly, you must first understand that there are many different kinds out there. Different locks are designed for different purposes, which means certain locks are best for homes and other locks are better for businesses. There are also different levels of security offered from variations in each category.

By understanding how a lock is designed and what it should be used for, you can make wise choices that will better protect your home and business. So, what are all the types of locks?


Padlocks are not embedded into a door or piece of furniture. They can be attached or detached at will by using a shackle to keep a door closed or an object in place. These are often used to lock sheds, school lockers and even luggage. While padlocks are common, they are also considered to be a relatively weak lock because it is easy to break them if you have access to bolt cutters, a drill or a hammer. They are also easy to pick.

In general, there are three kinds of padlocks in use today:

1. Combination Padlocks

These padlocks are unlocked by entering a set series of numbers into the lock which means, in theory, it can only be unlocked by someone who knows the correct numerical sequence. The numerical sequence can also be reset to keep the code secure.

2. Key-Based Padlocks

Similar in appearance to combination padlocks, these locks are opened with a small key rather than a numerical sequence. While some people prefer not needing to remember a set of numbers to access their belongings, there is a risk of losing the key because they are typically quite small. While some key-based padlocks can be re-keyed, this isn’t true of all models, so if you misplace the key, you may end up having to break the lock to gain access to whatever the lock is protecting.

3. TSA-Approved Locks

Many travelers prefer to lock their bags with a padlock when they check them in before a flight. The problem is that sometimes TSA needs to open bags and suitcases to inspect the contents. Since this inspection often happens after bags have been checked, their owner is not nearby to open the lock. In the past, this has resulted in TSA needing to cut the lock to complete an inspection. To prevent this, TSA worked alongside several lock companies to create a special padlock designed to correspond to a special master key that is only held by TSA representatives.


A deadbolt is a mainstay in home security because it is harder to pick than a standard knob lock or padlock. Many are designed as cylinder locks which are identified by a cylinder that surrounds the lock itself and runs through the door. Cylinder locks are designed to correspond to one specific key. They cannot be opened without the key that is designed to fit into the sequence of the pins held inside of the lock.

Deadbolts can either be installed on the surface of the door — think of a bolt that slides from the top of the door itself into a casing secured into the door jam — or it can be installed inside of the door for greater security. The internal deadbolt is more common because it is more secure. It also has more variations.

1. Single Cylinder Locks

Today’s most common deadbolt, a single cylinder lock is mounted inside the door. It has a twist knob to lock it from the inside and then has an exterior cylinder that requires either a key or a code to unlock.

2. Double Cylinder Locks

Similar to the single cylinder lock, a double cylinder lock is mounted in the door itself. The difference is that, rather than having a twist knob on the inside, a key is needed to lock or unlock the door from both the inside and outside. In some ways, this is safer because it prevents a burglar from breaking a piece of glass in your door or a nearby window to reach in and unlock the deadbolt from the inside. However, some argue that this type of lock can be somewhat of a fire hazard because it of the extra time it takes to find the key and get out of the house in event of a fire.

3. Lockable Thumbturn Style

This style combines the best of both the single and double cylinder lock. The exterior side of the lock can only be unlocked by a key. The inside includes a thumbturn knob that also has a keyhole. When you’re home, you can leave the thumbturn unlocked and the door will operate the same way a single cylinder would — locking only when you throw the twist knob. The thumbturn can only be locked and unlocked with a key, adding an additional layer of protection when you’re away from home.

4. Jimmy Proof Deadbolt

Also known as a “Vertical Deadbolt,” this lock is commonly used on double doors and apartment entry doors, Jimmy Proof deadbolts employ two interlocking vertical bolts. When the lock is engaged, those bolts go into a strike plate. The benefit of a Jimmy Proof deadbolt is that it’s easy to install and difficult for potential burglars to open because it can’t be disengaged by prying apart the doorframe. Some models even have a way to lock the lock itself so that you can’t use a key to gain entry from the outside. This prevents a burglar from picking the lock while you’re at home.

5. Mortise Locks

Mortise locks are often thrown into a category of locks called Rim Cylinders, although the two are slightly different. The reason they are often classified together is that these two locks perform very similar functions, acting as both a doorknob and a deadbolt. The downside to Mortise Locks is that they are installed by cutting a pocket into the door, which can weaken the integrity of the structure, although some say that the strength of the lock makes up for the weaker door. They are generally found in older doors and used because they fit into the aesthetics of older homes.

Locks in Handles

Locks in handles can be found on all sorts of doors — both internal and external — but their strengths and weakness can make one better than another depending on where you use them.

1. Knob Locks

Knob locks are the locks you see on doorknobs all over your home. On one side is a small knob that turns to lock the door from the inside. What’s on the other side can vary, but typically it will house a small key cylinder. When used on an exterior door, these should always be used in tandem with a deadbolt of some kind because knob locks are easy to break or pick, and they do not provide a significant defense against a burglar.

2. Lever Handle Locks

Lever handle locks are similar to knob locks because they have a small knob on one side and then a key cylinder on the other. They are often used on interior doors in commercial buildings because they are easy to turn, and they comply with the regulations outlined in the Americans With Disabilities Act. Also like knob locks, lever handle locks are a poor line of defense against intruders. If used on any exterior doors or in locations with sensitive information, they should always be used in tandem with a deadbolt lock.

Euro Profile Cylinders

Widely used across Europe and other places around the world, these locks have found their place in the United States on sliding glass doors or on interior doors that divide two rooms. These locks are generally considered to be a poor line of defense against potential intruders because they are particularly prone to lock snapping, especially if the lock is not the proper length for the door system it is meant to protect.

1. Single Euro Profile Cylinder

The Single Euro Profile Cylinder activates the locking mechanism by using a key on the interior side of the door to engage the lock. It cannot be unlocked from the outside.

2. Double Euro Profile Cylinder

The Double Euro Profile Cylinder can be locked or unlocked on either side by a key.

3. Thumbturn

The thumbturn uses a thumbturn on one side and has a keyed lock on the other.

Furniture Locks

A furniture lock is exactly what it sounds like — a lock used on a piece of furniture. Typically, these are found in desk drawers or filing cabinets.

These locks should never be relied on to provide total security all of the time. The quality and durability of these locks vary, so if you are attempting to store valuable items or highly sensitive information, these locks should be used in conjunction with other more effective locks on the windows and doors of the room where your furniture resides. Two kinds of furniture locks are typically used:

1. Push Button Style

When this type of lock is secured, there is a rod that comes out of the back of it that anchors it into place. When you use a key to unlock it, the front part will pop out, bringing the rod back into the mechanism so that you can open whatever drawer or cabinet was held shut with the lock.

2. Bolt Style

With a bolt style lock, a flat metal piece comes out from the lock to anchor it in the locked position. When the key is inserted and turned into the lock, the flat piece retracts to open the drawer.

New Lock Technology

These days, technology is involved in every area of our lives, and, now, it’s even at our doorstep. Thanks to new technology, your home or business can have locks that are controlled by more than just your keys.

1. Smart Locks

Smart locks are tied into your home’s wifi network. You can log into your system from anywhere to push a button or issue a command for your doors to lock or unlock. The great thing about smart Locks is that if you are out and realize you forgot to lock your door, you can simply push a button on your phone and correct the problem. Some smart locks also come with camera features that allow you to see who is on your doorstep before you unlock the door.

2. Electric Locks

An electric door lock is similar to the electric locks on cars. Inside of the locking mechanism is an actuator that connects the cylinder of the doorknob to a small motor inside of the door or frame. When a numerical code is entered, the actuator communicates with the motor and the door is unlocked. Electric locks can be a good option for someone who loses their keys a lot or doesn’t like to carry keys around. The downside to an electric lock is that it doesn’t work if the power fails. However, most models have a traditional key option included in them so that you can bypass the keypad if needed.

Types of Keys

Just as there are many different kinds of locks, there are also several different kinds of keys designed to make your locks — as well as your home or business — safer.

1. Dimple Keys

Dimple keys have two sets of dimple-shaped cones on the body of the key that are designed to correspond with sets of pins inside the lock. These keys are nice because they are the same on each side, which means the key doesn’t have to be oriented in a specific way for the lock to be opened.

2. Double-Sided and Four-Sided Keys

The terms “Double-Sided” and “Four-Sided” refer to the number of teeth in the key. Keys with four sets of teeth are more durable than their double-sided counterparts, and the extra sets of teeth also make their corresponding locks more difficult to pick.

3. Tubular Key

This tube-shaped key is often used for locks on bikes or vending machines. The tube-shaped key corresponds to a tubular pin inside of the lock. When inserted into the matching tube, the lock is opened.

4. Skeleton Key

“Skeleton Key” is a term used to refer to types of keys that can open any lock in a particular category.

About Ernie’s Lock and Key Services

Finding the right lock for your home or business is one of the best things you can do to protect the people and assets that are important to you. Let Ernie’s Lock and Key Services help you select and install the right locks for you. With more than 50 years in the locksmith business, our staff provides prompt, professional service in Riverdale Park, Prince George’s County and the surrounding areas. Contact us today for a free estimate.

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School Safety Rules

Category : Uncategorized

school safety rules

For many students, staff and faculty around the country, going to school is just part of their daily routine. Navigating through the hallways and going from class to class has become second nature, so many students don’t even think about it. School should be a place for students to learn, grow and make new friends. Therefore, feeling safe is the last thing students, staff and faculty should have to worry about as they work through the school year. However, recent events have shifted students’ sense of security, which is why it’s crucial to discuss the importance of school and classroom safety.

School and Classroom Safety: Why It’s Important

As defined by the National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments, school safety refers to schools as well as school-related activities where students are safe from bullying, harassment, violence and substance abuse. School and classroom safety has been proven to link to positive outcomes for the school and students. If students feel safe in their school, they are more likely to be high achievers academically.

school and classroom safety

More specifically, feeling physically safe in school is also related to fewer risky behaviors and lower dropout rates. If students can feel at ease in school, they can focus on their work and feel more connected to their school without having to worry about their safety. On the flip side, in schools with higher levels of “collective hostility” — measured by student reports of feeling unsafe, gang presence and frequency of fighting between different student groups — student achievement is more likely to suffer.

What’s the consensus when it comes to students’ thoughts on feeling safe in school? According to a survey that asked 35,000 fifth-through-twelfth graders across eight different states if they feel safe in the classroom, about two-thirds said yes. While this is certainly a majority of students who feel safe inside the classroom, how do they feel as they go outside or travel the hallways?

When it comes to the school outside of the classroom, only 59% said they felt safe at school in general while 55% of students said they felt safe outside the school building, still on school property. Meanwhile, only 54% said they felt safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms.

Some students also feel that there is a disconnect between their worries and the concerns of the school’s staff and faculty. According to Safe and Sound Schools, students reported feeling like their school was in denial about the possibility of danger. Additionally, more than half of the students surveyed believe their school lacks awareness regarding school safety issues. The students also think their schools falsely believe that events taking place around the country could never happen at their school.

With school shootings becoming more frequent occurrences, it’s understandable why students and even parents are hesitant when it comes to school safety. By October 2019, Education Week reported that there had been 17 school shootings with injuries or deaths that year alone. In a world where kids are feeling scared just to get an education, it’s time to have conversations with students, staff and faculty to stress the importance of school safety. One way to help increase efforts of school safety is to establish and enforce school rules that everyone can follow.

Safety Rules in the School

With more than 76 million students currently enrolled in schools across the U.S., it’s essential to have specific rules and protocols to keep things safe. Since school is ultimately the place for students to learn and interact with others, rules can help keep things orderly and secure so students can continue a worry-free education.

list of safety rules in school
  1. Update school safety plans often. A school safety plan that was created for your school last year runs the risk of being outdated. It’s crucial to get in the habit of reviewing safety plans often and updating them as necessary. Since each school year is different, you should incorporate problems that arise during the school year into the next year’s safety plan, if not sooner. Your school should also think about which concerns it finds the most important to the community, so the school may focus its efforts on those specific concerns.
  2. Go over safety policies with the staff, students and parents frequently. A school’s staff must have a clear understanding of all safety policies so they can appropriately enforce the policies with their students. For teachers to be the best they can be, they must be all on the same page. Classroom safety rules should be readily available and distributed throughout the school to each room. Teachers should also make sure their students are taking home these safety policies so parents can also stay up to date with any vital information. Some schools come up with different ways to share policies — such as using pictures or videos — to move away from the repetitive method of distributing a traditional printed out list of rules.
  3. Provide safety training for teachers. As a teacher, you are responsible for the 20 to 30 students in your classroom at any given time. With training opportunities, you can feel more prepared to protect. There are a few different options for training your school may offer. Some courses teach staff how to keep behaviors under control and address a situation before it gets out of hand. Others focus on how to see the different warning signs of crisis to take action fast. Some programs are for students and staff, covering numerous problems from bullying to fire extinguisher safety, while others help prepare staff for an active shooter situation.
  4. Orchestrate a school safety squad with other staff and faculty. If safety is high on your school’s list of priorities, you may decide you need a safety committee! With other staff and faculty in your school, you can team up and volunteer to delve even deeper into safety measures. By assigning different members of the committee individual roles, such as an emergency planner or communication coordinator, people can feel like they’re making a difference. Roles also help hold people accountable while making problem management significantly easier.
  5. Establish an emergency response plan. In any emergency, your school must know how to respond appropriately. By creating a clearly outlined emergency response plan with four key components — prevent, prepare, respond and recover — you’re on the right track. For prevention, it’s important to develop rules and resources, such as anti-violence or anti-bullying policies to try and keep problems at bay. But problems are inevitable, which is why you must also have a plan for responding to an emergency. Have a crisis communication strategy to inform parents and the public about what happened. Emergencies don’t end there, so it’s essential you also have a recovery plan to start putting the pieces back together and move forward.
  6. Practice safety drills often. Even if your school has regularly scheduled safety drills once a month, it’s important to continue practicing them with your students in the classroom. From weather drills to lockdown drills, students must prepare for any situation and know what to do.
  7. Incorporate emergency awareness into the curriculum. Depending on how serious your school is about emergency preparedness and the flexibility of the curriculum, you may be able to include emergency awareness into lessons in the classroom. FEMA’s Youth Emergency Preparedness Curriculum-Ready Kits allow students in grades one through 12 to learn more about responding to an emergency while still practicing everyday skills. Ready Kids is another place kids, teens, families and educators and organizations can go to learn more about emergency preparedness through numerous resources.

How to Keep Your School and Classroom Safe

Considering the importance of school safety, the different ways to secure your school and classroom continue to grow. To keep your school and classroom safe, consider these tips for added peace of mind.

1. Only Allow People Entry From One Specific Place

One clear, designated entry point makes it easier to keep track of everyone coming in and out. To determine if your school is using the safest entrance possible, your school may want to perform a safety audit. A safety audit looks at things such as how your school is locking doors and how visitors enter the school. It can also find any line of sight issues and determine how people move throughout the building. With one entry point, many schools also put up some form of intercom call box at the entrance to communicate visitors and see why they need to enter the building.

2. Enforce a Tight Visitor Policy

Since parents trust schools to keep their children safe, all schools must maintain a strict policy on visitors coming in and out of the building. Front office staff should require all visitors to go through a check-in process. Visitors must show ID, provide a phone number, write the date and time of arrival and explain why they’re visiting the school. To distinguish staff and faculty from visitors, staff and faculty should be required to wear a photo ID badge.

3. Introduce Visitor Management Software

school visitor signing in

While some schools have visitors sign in with a pen on paper, other schools are gravitating toward visitor management software for extra precautionary measures when it comes to visitors. Since log-in sheets may not always get filled out or could easily become lost, having software to check visitors in is both easier and more reliable. Visitor management software can also run all state-issued IDs through a database, which helps schools learn about who is coming through their door. Visitor management software may also be able to run background checks for that extra layer of security. When the data the visitor management software collects is put into cloud storage, you can keep better track of who is visiting your school at any time.

4. Keep Front Doors Locked

Once the day starts, your school’s front entrance should be locked up and secure. While students enter school at the beginning of the day and leave school at the end of the day, school staff or faculty should watch the entrances and exits and control flow of who’s coming in and who’s going out. It would also be a good idea to ensure all classrooms have working locks. In the case of a lockdown drill or real-life crisis, it’s essential to ensure no one can gain access to your room. It’s crucial to teach your students that they shouldn’t open the door for anyone until they know who’s knocking. For security’s sake, school entrances should have two sets of locked doors that can be easily seen on security footage.

5. Make Sure Technology Is Up to Date

In addition to the front entrance, security cameras may be set up elsewhere around the school. But with technology, you must make sure it’s updated. What good is a security camera if the quality is so bad you can’t even make out the footage? Technology also refers to classroom telephones, walkie-talkies and intercoms throughout the building. In an emergency where you need to communicate with other faculty and staff, these tools must be in good working order. As technology progresses, your school can look into new and improved methods of security. Examples include video surveillance that also takes pictures of people coming into the building or emergency buttons that immediately notify 911 when pushed.

Increase Safety at Your School With Ernie’s Locksmith and Key Services

To ensure everyone can continue to keep school a safe place, we must have conversations about the importance of school safety. This includes going over school and classroom rules and identifying other ways everyone can feel secure in the building. Whether you’re looking for custom master key systems or to install keyless and electronic access systems, Ernie’s Lock Company can provide quality commercial locksmith and security services to schools in Riverdale, MD and surrounding areas. We understand that there’s no better investment than an investment in security, so contact Ernie’s Lock Company today for your commercial locksmith needs.

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What Is a Master Key System?

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If you’re a business owner, a landlord or a commercial property manager, you might be interested in learning more about master key door lock systems and how they operate. A property with multiple doors, duties and employees can be difficult to balance when it comes to granting access while maintaining security.

Here’s everything you need to know about master key installation and how it can improve your business:

What Is a Master Key System?

A master key system is a lock system that allows different types of keys to unlock the same doors to enhance security. Each door on a property may have its own individual key that cannot open anything but its specific lock, but a master key has the capability to unlock every door.

How Does It Work?

Basic pin tumbler locks — the most common kind of lock — operates with key and driver pins within a cylinder. When you insert a key into the key plug, it lifts the pins to a specified height, called the shear line, and allows the lock to open. Master key locks have two shear lines: one for the change keys or sub-master keys, which open only individual doors, and one for master keys, which open them all.

Although the master key is usually the highest-ranking in the system, sometimes businesses might use grand-master or great-grand-master keys, which have the ability open multiple master key systems.

Benefits of Using a Master Key System

Master key systems offer multiple benefits for convenience, control and security. They make restricted access possible, meaning you can give employees keys to only specific doors while you have access to them all. Master keys also eliminate the need to carry heavy key rings and designate which key opens what door — you’ll have one key to do it all.

Reinforce the safety, security and ease of managing your business or property by investing in a master key system.

Install a Master Key System With Ernie’s

If you’re ready to make your master key move, trust Ernie’s Lock and Key to deliver the service and system you’re looking for. Providing top-notch locksmith and key services to Maryland and the Metro D.C. area since 1960, we’ll keep your business secure. Contact us today.

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How to Secure Your Sliding Glass Door

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Sliding doors are a beautiful addition to any home. They let in light in the morning, showcase the sunset and shine on the best parts of the rooms you’re proud of. While you’re admiring the aesthetic value of your doors, the view of the outside from indoors and the ease of traveling from your kitchen to your backyard, however, you might not be thinking about how they can make your home more vulnerable to break-ins.

Burglars target sliding doors because they showcase what’s inside the house, they’re easy to break and their locks and pressure resistance can be weak. To enjoy the appeal of your doors while ensuring you’re protected against outside threats, try these tips.

Tips for Increasing Your Sliding Glass Door Security

  • Add a bar to block the tracks. Sliding doors operate by moving along a set of tracks. Often, one panel is stationary while the other slides behind it when you open the door, and sometimes the doors open in the middle and slide away from each other. The latches on these doors aren’t very strong, so try reinforcing your security by placing a wood or metal bar behind the door that slides. This extra layer of resistance makes it much harder to break in.
  • Use chains around the handles. Especially with doors that meet in the middle, tampering with the handle or parting the doors to break in can be a possible threat. To protect against this risk, try chain-linking your handles together or to an attachment in the wall with strong chain material.
  • Reinforce the glass. You don’t want it to be easy for burglars to shatter the glass of your doors, so purchase a layer of glass film to protect your door or replace the material with impact-resistant glass.
  • Add an extra plate. Similar to blocking your tracks with a sliding glass door security bar, you can purchase an anti-jimmy door plate that fits into the space on the tracks above the door to prevent it from being lifting off its tracks.

Better Glass Door Security With Ernie’s Lock and Key

To make sure your home entries are as sturdy as possible with sliding glass door security locks and reinforcements, consult Ernie’s Lock and Key. Providing key and locksmith services in the Maryland and Metro D.C. areas since 1960, we specialize in your safety. Contact us today.

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How to Improve Your Front Door Security

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Your home is your stronghold, so there’s nothing more important than keeping your home security strong. When it comes to burglary threats and protection against break-ins, your front door can be your greatest weakness or your greatest strength. To make sure your home is safe and your door strands immobile against attacks, try these tips.

How To Increase Front Door Security

  • Have solid-core, strong doors.
    Doors with hollow cores are fine for the interior of your house, but they can be dangerous if they’re the only barrier between you and the outside. For better security in your front door, make sure you choose one made of solid wood or to replace your empty core with metal, wood or fiberglass.
  • Install a deadbolt and front-door security lock.
    If your entry door only features a standard handle lock, reinforce it with a sturdy deadbolt and hardware cover for an added layer of protection. If you already have a deadbolt, think about upgrading your locks periodically to make sure you’re up-to-date with the best types of protection and reinforce your locks with cylinder guards or strike plates.
  • Monitor your door.
    Part of preventing break-ins is taking deterrent measures to ensure not only that burglars are aware you’re watching them but also that you can identify anyone who attempts to gain entry. Try installing a wide-angle peephole or security camera in or around your door so you can always see who’s knocking and so potential criminals feel more exposed.
  • Keep your lights on.
    Installing outdoor lights around your front door and keeping your entryway bright, visible and friendly is a fantastic way to ward off intruders. After all, neighbors and community members are much more likely to notice someone trying to pick a lock or break down a door in plain sight with the extra attention of light at night. You should also try to minimize any objects that could provide hiding places around your door.

Improve Door Security With The Help of a Professional Locksmith

If you need more information on security for home doors, your local locksmiths are here to help. Servicing commercial, residential and emergency lock needs since 1960, Ernie’s Lock and Key is a name you can trust in the Maryland and Metro D.C. areas. Contact us today!

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What to do When Your Car Key is Stuck in the Ignition

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key stuck in ignition

A car key stuck in the ignition or when your car keep won’t turn is a common problem that is usually easy to resolve. A stuck key is not the same as a broken key — in the latter case, the head of the key breaks off when you attempt to turn it. This will usually require removing the broken portion of the key by inserting a pair of needle-nose pliers or extraction tool into the lock cylinder.

How to Get a Stuck Key Out of the Ignition

If the car key is stuck in the ignition and does not appear to be broken, thy these three simple steps.

key stuck in ignition micrographic gif

  • “Unlocking” the steering wheel – Many vehicles feature a locking mechanism that activates when the steering wheel is turned too far to the left or right. This will also prevent the removal of the key. Turning the wheel in the opposite direction can release the lock and enable you to take the key out of the ignition.
  • Jiggling the key – Another easy method for removing a stuck key is to push down on the key cylinder with your left index finger while simultaneously jiggling the key with your right hand. This can loosen the grasp of the springs and pins located inside the cylinder and allow the key to slide out.
  • Shaking the gear selector – If your car has an automatic transmission, you won’t be able to remove the key unless the selector is set properly in park or neutral. Gently shaking the selector while in the park position can often remedy the issue.


Ernie’s: Your Local Maryland Locksmith

If none of these methods do the trick or if your key broke and you need a key replacement, call a professional locksmith for help. Ernie’s Lock Company is a reputable car locksmith serving Riverdale, MD and the surrounding areas that can resolve most key/ignition issues quickly and efficiently.

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The Cost of Losing Car Keys Doesn’t Have to Be a Fortune

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losing car keys

It’s bound to happen sooner or later: You reach into your pocket or purse for your car keys, only to discover that they’re not there! Losing your keys is an inconvenience at best, and in a worst-case scenario, it can leave you stranded many miles from home.

Misplaced car keys can also come with a cost. If you’re locked out, you may need to call a tow truck to have your vehicle towed to the dealership. If you’re not a member of an auto club or do not have roadside assistance through your insurance carrier, a tow can be quite expensive. Then there is the cost of car key replacement — if you have a key fob that contains an electronic chip, you could pay as much as $400 for a new fob.

The Importance of Planning Ahead

Proper planning can mitigate the hassle and expenses associated with lost car keys. Surprisingly, many people never get around to having a spare set of keys made for their vehicle — if you fall into this category, do it now before it’s too late!

Some folks who have a spare key resort to attaching it inside a wheel well or elsewhere on the exterior of their vehicle, and that’s like sending an open invitation to a car thief. It’s also advisable to program the phone number of a trustworthy automotive locksmith that provides emergency locksmith services in your area into your cell phone.

Know Your Car Key Replacement Options

When you’re searching for a spare/replacement key, you’ll need to select one that’s compatible with the make and model of your automobile. Depending on the vehicle, you may need a traditional “dumb” key that includes no security features.

Most vehicles built since the mid-1990s are equipped with a computer chip to provide greater protection against theft. The latest example is a “smart” key, which actually isn’t a key at all. Instead, drivers carry a fob in their pocket or purse that automatically unlocks the door when they get within a certain distance of the vehicle. The driver starts and turns off the ignition by pressing a button on the dashboard.

With most of these modern key options, it is typically less expensive to have a replacement or spare programmed by a capable automotive locksmith or aftermarket service provider than at the dealership.

Ernie’s Lock Co. Provides Custom Car Key Replacement Services in MD

Ernie’s Lock has been providing custom key services in Maryland since 1960. Contact us to learn how you can minimize your car key replacement costs.

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What You Need to Know About Installing a Smart Lock

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As smartphones come to play an increasingly large role in our lives, it’s no surprise that one of the oldest technologies in the home — the front door lock — is adapting accordingly. Today, a new generation of smart locks for the home is making it easier to stay safe and secure, and provide the peace of mind of knowing your property is protected at all times.

What Are Smart Locks?

A smart lock is any type of system that uses a virtual key instead of a physical one. While the locking mechanism is the same, it is triggered by an encrypted electronic code stored on your cellphone. Many systems also use a key or touchpad for access.

Benefits of Smart Locks

Smart door locks offer a number of important benefits, including:

Convenience: Smart locks replace the need for keys, which can be lost or become damaged over time. Smart locks pair with your phone, which means one less thing to have to carry with you and worry about when you’re out. Smart locks are also great for visitors, as many allow you to create a single-use access code that can be disabled afterward.


Automation: Many smart locks for the home integrate with security, lighting, climate and other systems, putting complete home control in the palm of your hand. With a smart home automation system, you can schedule processes to improve comfort and save money on your monthly utility bills.


Remote monitoring: Smart locks create an electronic record of every time access to your home is requested or granted. This is great for keeping track of your kids or visitors, allowing you to remotely vet guests and authorize entry when necessary. Many systems can be set up to alert you automatically when there is an issue or a concern.

Different smart lock systems have different feature sets — to explore your options with one of our knowledgeable sales representatives, contact Ernie’s Lock Co. directly.

Who Can Benefit?

Smart lock systems are great for anyone who spends long hours out of the home and wants security and peace of mind while they’re away. Single parents with school-age children find our systems especially useful, as does anyone who has frequent guests or short-term renters sharing their home. Ultimately, smart locks can be beneficial to anyone who wants more control over their property, and greater flexibility to manage things remotely.

Installing a Smart Lock

Installing a smart lock system in the home is generally quick and easy. However, working with an experienced installer is critical — if not set up properly, a smart lock can be a potential security risk.

Ernie’s Lock Co. provides smart lock installation for Maryland homes. Our licensed team will get the job done quickly and provide all necessary training to ensure your system is working properly. To get started, call our Riverdale head office directly.

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What Is the Best Keyless Entry System for a Business?

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Commercial keyless locks and access control systems can offer both large and small businesses a number of important benefits. From improving employee convenience to the ability to track entry and exits with precision, there’s a lot a keyless system can do that a traditional lock-and-key setup can’t.

An increasing range of products has made switching to keyless entry for small businesses easier and more affordable than ever before. Here’s a quick guide to what you need to know to make an informed decision.

What Type of Keyless Entry System is Best?

Keyless entry systems for business are defined more by what they aren’t than what they are. As a result, they include everything from a simple keypad to more sophisticated, smartphone-enabled systems. Keyless systems can be activated by a code, a fob, a key card or a number of other items. You’ll need to consider what works best for your employees and your security staff when making a decision, as well as your budget and your big picture access-control needs.

How Many Codes?

One of the most significant differences between large and small business keyless entry systems is the number of codes it will allow you to program. Single-code systems, such as those by Kaba Ilco, offer simplicity and straightforward installation. However, they are restricted in that every employee or guest must use the same code. Larger systems, such as those by Alarm Lock, allow for tiered access control. In some facilities, including government complexes, codes may be used to create 200 or more levels of access.

How Much Should You Spend on a Keyless Entry System?

Keyless entry systems can be expensive — but they’re an expense that is worth it. A keyless system provides faster entry and exit, which is especially useful if you have a high volume of people or vehicles entering your property. They also allow you to monitor employees’ entry and exit times, and to perform more thorough investigations should something go wrong.

Keyless entry systems can be highly useful in managing risk, as well. Most key fobs and cards can’t be duplicated, and can be deactivated remotely once reported lost. This translates to improved overall security, fewer losses due to theft, and, in some cases, lower insurance rates. All told, the one-time expense of a keyless system will pay for itself over time.

Choosing a Keyless Entry System

Technology is changing all the time and, while no system is fully future-proof, making an informed, forward-thinking purchase is the best way to get as much benefit as possible out of a keyless security system.

That’s why it pays to work with a professional. Ernie’s Lock Co. provides keyless entry installation and services for Maryland small and large businesses. We’ll work with you to determine the best system for your operation, and to provide long-term maintenance and other support. To get started, contact our head office and arrange a consultation today.

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Ernie's Lock Company, Inc. believes in full transparency when it comes to pricing! We always provide honest, competitive and up-front pricing to our customers - we don't like sticker shock. Call our licensed locksmiths today for pricing & custom quotes!


4500 Queensbury Road Riverdale, Maryland 20737
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