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What's that Hole in the Doorknob? UPDATE

Updated: Oct 4, 2023

What's that hole in the doorknob | The Secure Dad | Security | Home | Safety | Secure Dad

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UPDATE: I almost cautioned you to take an emergency key with you on vacation because you never know, right? But that is being too cautious ya know? Well, I learned my lesson. As Murphy’s Law likes to strike, my 4-year-old locked the door to the bathroom at our hotel and shut it on the way out. Fortunately, he was not inside.

A mad scramble ensued of what were were going to do. We knew what to do, it was a matter of finding a way to get something into that tiny hole and free up the potty. I did have the foresight of packing a small tool kit that I use when shoot video. In that kit was a “tweaker”. (Pictured at the bottom between the emergency key and small screwdriver.)

The door did not have a small screw inside but a button that I could push to release the lock. A quick poke and the door was open. So, let me say, take a small screwdriver with you on vacation!

What's The Hole in the Doorknob For?

There is this story my parents like to tell of the time I locked myself in my room when I was young. I’m not sure if I was mad and locked myself in the room or it was an accident. But nonetheless, there I was in my room with the door locked. My parents hurried to get the door open which involved asking me to come and unlock the door. Then I famously yelled back, “No. You do it.”

My father took the door off the hinges and I was okay. No problem. This kind of thing happens to families every day. I’m sure you have a similar story in your family.

Fortunately, most modern interior door knobs include a way to prevent my family's situation. Have you ever noticed that little hole in the knob of your lockable door knobs? It’s in the dead center of the outside. There's not much to note, but this little opening can get you out of a jam if your youngster ever locks himself inside their room or a bathroom.

What's that hole in the doorknob | The Secure Dad | Security | Home | Safety | Secure Dad | Doorknob | Lock

On the inside of that hole is a groove that will fit a small flat head screwdriver. Think of it as a very small screw that turns the lock. When you insert a small enough flathead screwdriver into this groove it will open your locked door. You will have to use your sense of feel to connect and turn it, but it is easily done. I suggest you close your eyes to focus. Some door knobs come with a small “emergency key” that is a simple flathead screwdriver just for this purpose. Some locks have a small button that needs to be pressed in order to release the lock. You won't know which kind you are facing until you have the screwdriver in the hole. So if you can't feel a small groove to turn, try pressing on it.

What's that hole in the doorknob | The Secure Dad | Security | Home | Safety | Secure Dad | Emergency Key | Key

Opening A Locked Door

So now you know how to open a locked interior door knob. But what do you do when you realize that your 3-year-old has locked themselves in the bathroom and they are crying for you to get them out? Of course, you need to leave and get that small screwdriver that is in the garage. But that will leave your child alone and out of range of your comforting voice.

To avoid having to leave your child, I suggest you keep one emergency key, or small screwdriver, on the top of a bathroom door frame on each floor of your home. That way you can access it easily and always know where it is. This will cut down the time your child is left in the room alone.

If you don’t have a small screwdriver, not to worry you can get an "emergency key" here. They have a great selection of small screwdriver kits. Or you can go online and order a spare emergency key. These will be easier to store above the door frame.

Kwickset Emergency Key | The Secure Dad

For more ways to keep your family safe, consider The Secure Dad Newsletter.

What's that hole in the door knob for

Andy Murphy

Andy Murphy founded The Secure Dad in 2016 with the aspiration to help families live safer, happier lives. What started as a personal blog about family safety has turned into an award-winning podcast, an Amazon best-selling book, and online courses. He focuses his efforts in the areas of home security, situational awareness, and online safety.


Andy is a husband and father. His interests include coaching youth basketball, hiking, and trying to figure out his 3D printer.

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