We all carry a collection of keys, and most people tend to keep them in a large bunch on one key-ring, which is not a good idea. If your car key is in the bunch you’ll increase the wear on the rather expensive ignition lock for a start, but there are important safety reasons for separating your keys into two or more bunches.
What if you need to get into your car really quickly? While it is true that car keys are fairly distinctive, you’ll still have to disentangle the key from all the others, or get the bunch of keys out the way so you can operate the remote.
What if you need to get into your home quickly, perhaps to avoid an unsavoury character heading your way? You have to find the security gate key amongst all the others, then find the front door key then find the security gate key again. Not easy to do when you’re flustered.
What if you lose your Jackpot-bunch of keys, or they are stolen? Whoever has your keys will have access to everything you possess, so you’ll be forced to spend a lot of money very quickly to replace at least some locks and all your keys.
So, it is worth giving some thought to managing your keys.
Separate your Keys
First, separate your keys into different bunches – the idea is to put at risk only the keys you need in each situation.
- Home / front door / Post Office Box if you walk to it
- Car & garage / Post Office Box if you drive to it
- Office/work only
- Storage facility
Mark Important Keys
Locksmith shops usually have a variety of coloured plastic slip-over key markers for sale very cheaply. Buy two different types – not just different colours – to mark the most important key in each clip, and lace the keys onto the ring in the specific order you need to use them. Even in the dark, when taking the keys from your pocket (or handbag) the different feel of the marked key allows you to find it easily. Knowing that the key on the right / left is the next one you need allows you to flick it into position with all the dexterity of a conjurer!
I have a brightly coloured lanyard on my car / garage key set– this is NOT for wearing keys around my neck! The bright colour makes the keys easy to find, especially when accidentally dropped. Using small carabiner, clip the bunches together ONLY when you’re at home and always keep them in a place which is more than arm’s length from a window or door and not visible through a window or door. A drawer in a dresser or hall-table would also keep your keys out of sight of the occasional meter-reader or workman.
Do NOT label your keys with your full name and address!
At most, perhaps attach a discreet label with your mobile number on the clip you are most likely to lose. When a Good Samaritan phones to return your lost keys, be gracious but circumspect. If at all possible you should offer to go to them to retrieve the keys – in any case I suggest meeting in a very public place like a shopping mall.
Develop good Key Habits
Of course if you are in the habit of mislaying one bunch of keys around the house, you have a statistically greater chance of losing at least one of three bunches of keys! The answer is to get into the habit of keeping keys only in one of three places:
- Always in the same place at home
- In a your pocket – or in your handbag in a pocket reserved for ONLY your keys
- In the lock, only when in use
Establish a routine for using your keys – here’s my own example: Before leaving the house I unclasp the garage/car/work access set and put them in a jacket pocket, leaving only the front-door security gate clip in my hand. The front door simply pulls shut on the latch, so I only need to lock the security gate. I “Look Up, Look Around and Look Out” while putting the house keys in a different pocket before stepping into the road.
Approaching my rented garage around the corner, I retrieve the garage set to open the lock, which is of a kind which will only release the key again when it is locked. After locking my laptop in the trunk, I reverse the car out to park on the opposite side of the road. Going to lock the garage is my most vulnerable time, so it is definitely “Look Up, Look Around and Look Out” all the way there and back!
The business-park access token is with my garage key, so that goes into the door-pocket as soon as I am back in the car. The lanyard makes it easy to get the keys out of the door pocket when approaching the security boom at work.
If you habitually go to, say, the gym before or after work, consider whether it is better to leave keys you don’t need, like garage and house keys, in your car. Driving to the beach to surf? Don’t leave your keys with a car-guard and absolutely do not hide your keys around your car! Most surf-shops along the beach-front will look after car-keys. If you are walking to the beach, carry only one house-key on a short lanyard around your neck or an elastic bracelet.
A little thought given to managing your keys could save you considerable inconvenience and expense – it could even save your life.