Avoiding High-Risk Practices With Keys

I’ve noticed that people often increase the risk in their lives by the way they deal with their keys. Here are some of the practices that I think are high-risk and some comments about them:

1. Loaning your keys to other people

I worked for several years in a residential treatment program for psychiatric patients. The person who conducted my orientation gave me some advice I’ll never forget: “Your keys are your authority. Never loan your keys to a resident [patient].” In that program, we trusted our residents and allowed them a lot of freedom. But this was good advice.

I view any lock as an important responsibility. I do keep a spare house key on my key chain, in case I need to loan one to a family member or friend for some important purpose.

2. Having your keys out of your pocket anywhere near a storm sewer or grate.

Obvious what the risk is here.

3. Setting your keys down when you come into any house

This especially applies to someone else’s house. This is a recipe for losing your keys. However, it also applies to your own house. Suppose you have to run outside briefly? It would be very easy to forget to bring your keys with you, shut the door, and lock yourself out. Even in my own house, I don’t take my keys out of my pocket unless I am almost 100 percent certain I’m not going outside.

4. Carrying your keys outside your clothing

I see guys walking around with their keys hanging on a chain outside of their pockets. This looks very risky to me.

5. Buying clothes without pockets

This is one of my pet peeves about women’s clothing. What’s wrong with having at least one small, discreet pocket in a dress or skirt? Having no pockets decreases your power, in my opinion.

6. Not making spare keys

As soon as I become the owner of a lock (on a house or car), I have spare keys made — at least one for each person who will be responsible for that lock, and at least two extras. In spite of precautions, keys get lost; when that happens, the person responsible needs a replacement immediately.

Best practice is to never use the only original key that comes with a lock. Keep at least one original in storage so you can make more copies when they are needed. That brings me to another high-risk practice:

7. Keeping your original keys just any old place

I store all my original keys in a box kept only for that purpose. When I purchase a new lock, the original key and any extra copies go in that box and the key gets labeled. Best practice is to designate one place where all keys will be kept.

AB — 15 January 2012

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