How I escaped a locked room

Your bedroom probably feels like an escape from the rest of society. It’s a private space that you’ve customised to your own liking. The last thing that I expect to happen is to be trapped inside it.

Last week, that’s exactly what happened to me.

This is the story of how I became trapped inside a locked room, escaped and, ultimately, fixed my faulty door. It’s practical advice on what to do if you find yourself in this situation and key steps to take to prevent it from happening.

Before I was trapped

Like many of us, I’d been working from home earlier that day and noticed that my door handle had become stiff and slightly unresponsive but thought little of it. I carried on with the grind, opening and closing the door for coffee breaks and Zoom meetings.

Fast forward to later that evening during a Taekwondo webinar, conducted by my instructor (whose YouTube channel you can find here), on one of the warmest days of the year so far, only made worse by my windows turning the room into a greenhouse. When the lesson had finished, I waded through the puddles of sweat to open the door and head downstairs for food.

Or, I would have, if the door hadn’t become a wall. My handle was no longer working. I was trapped.

Attempting an escape

I was thankful for Past Josh’s prior thinking, as he’d brought a screwdriver with him when moved to Birmingham and had left it in my drawer. I used it to remove the door handle to better assess the situation

I could now, quite easily, see that the interior mechanism – the part that retracts the latch – had shattered. As a result, there was nothing for handle to grab and turn, making any attempts to open it quite pointless.

I would have to retract the latch manually, but how? I felt out of options.

The cheese knife that saved my life

A YouTube tutorial that I’d found clarified that I’d need a thin, strong piece of rounded metal to hook onto the latch, manually retract it and open the door. This being a bedroom, my next issue was that I stored nothing of the sort in there.

My housemate’s eyes lit up and he raced to the kitchen to pass me a cheese knife which, surprisingly, did the trick. It worked. After a long struggle, my door had been opened. I wedged it open and set to work on removing the inner mechanism to keep the latch from locking me in once more.

The video that you could one day be panic-watching.

Fixing the faults

Following a hastily made email chain to my landlord, he’d ordered a replacement that I picked up from a tool store in Birmingham. Fitting the mechanism was slightly daunting but, ultimately, straightforward to fix. I threaded the bolt through the centre and reattached the handles.

And now, it’s good as new.

This was one of the weirder experiences of my life in Lockdown. You never expect to be locked in your own room, but it can happen. I was lucky enough that my bedroom backed onto a Jack-and-Jill en suite, a bathroom that has two doors and opened into the hallway. As a result, I was never in any real danger – but how I would have been otherwise!

My parting advice is to invest in some sort of tool that you can keep in rooms with only one exit. It doesn’t have to be a cheese knife (though that worked wonders); there are plenty of tools you can find online, one of which I’ve attached a link to below:

Wear-and-tear was to blame for my faulty door, so you might want to spend half an hour checking that all of yours are well and healthy.

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3 thoughts on “How I escaped a locked room

  1. Such a weird title for a post but actually quite an interesting one in the end 😂. I’m forever locking myself in places – or thinking I’m locked in, when I’m really not – so I definitely know the struggle. Don’t think I’d have had the sense to get myself out though 😂


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