How do I kidproof a front door?
October 12, 2007 11:38 AM   Subscribe

How do I kid-proof a front door?

We live in a highrise. The front door of our unit has a deadbolt and lever door handle. My child is now old enough to push a stool/toy/box/books too the door and stand on it to unlock the door. There is thick crown moulding around thenlocked when no one is home. (Other than the existing door door, so it isn't possible to fit a chain lock or other sort of lock. What can we do to kidproof the door? We don't really own the door (the strata does) so we're limited in what we can drill or install. I know you can get lever handle locks, but then we wouldn't be able to come in the door. I don't mind having something that requires one person to unlock the door for another, but it would have to remain ulock.)

Several of my friends have children who have escaped out the front door of their apartments and they are interested in what can be done to kid proof a lever door handle or apartment door.
posted by acoutu to Home & Garden (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't think anyone is going to deny you the right to keep your child safe. Install one of those deadbolts with key holes on both sides and store the key on top of the door jamb or somewhere else convenient but out of reach.
posted by MiffyCLB at 11:43 AM on October 12, 2007

hook and eye at the top- 2 small holes, and you're done.
posted by jenkinsEar at 11:44 AM on October 12, 2007

Hook and eye. Pic

Install high up beyond reach of child and stool. Installation damage minimal (two tiny holes, one in door, one in frame). Drilling necessary, but you seem to have limited choices.
posted by poppo at 11:45 AM on October 12, 2007

Curse you Jenkins' Ear!!!
posted by poppo at 11:45 AM on October 12, 2007

There are locks you can buy that go on top of the doorknob itself. Also child-proof devices. Link
posted by vacapinta at 11:46 AM on October 12, 2007

If I understand the question correctly, you could probably use one of these. They screw onto the moulding and flip out of the way when not in use. When it's time to lock he door, simply flip the metal plate against the door. Two screw-holes in the moulding and you're good to go. You can install it as high as you feel it needs to be in order to keep it out of your child's reach.
posted by lekvar at 11:52 AM on October 12, 2007

The hook and eye solution has the same problem some lever locks do in that it can't be opened from the other side. There are lever locks that allow opening from both sides, though, and I think they can be installed without drilling holes; we have them in our house.

This is the lock we have used; it appears others like it too since most of the reviews are good. Two people say that their kids were able to defeat it, but that has not been our experience; the complainers may not have installed it carefully as most of these things have to line up just right for maximum effectiveness.
posted by TedW at 11:53 AM on October 12, 2007

We've had excellent luck with doorknob covers - you have to squeeze them together before they'll grip the doorknob and let you turn it. Otherwise they just spin freely. Our older kids can open the front and back doors, but the smaller ones cannot. You need a round doorknob, though. No drilling needed at all.
posted by jquinby at 11:55 AM on October 12, 2007

Just read the bit about the lever-style handle. Sorry about that.
posted by jquinby at 11:56 AM on October 12, 2007

Another alternative would be to replace the lever with a knob; you may even be able to do this on just the inside. Save the old parts and you can restore it to its original condition when you move. That way you can use knob locks for toddlers, which are much easier to find.
posted by TedW at 11:58 AM on October 12, 2007

Just experience from the other side, I remember as a child that the hook and eye were the bane of my existence that blocked me from the computer/TV room. However, my older brother had no problem trying to break through the door. He ended up damaging it. I'm not really sure what broke because the both of us ran away really quickly.

Make sure you teach your kids that body slamming the door is not a good option.
posted by spec80 at 12:11 PM on October 12, 2007

Install one of those deadbolts with key holes on both sides and store the key on top of the door jamb or somewhere else convenient but out of reach.

Don't do is a fire hazard.
posted by radioamy at 12:21 PM on October 12, 2007

Best answer: I hung a smallish* bell at the top of the front door of our house so I could hear if the kidlet was making a break for it. There's fancier/more expensive ways of doing the same thing but that $2 brass bell from the import store can be heard from every room in our sprawling house.

*it's about the size of a golf ball. If it's too big/heavy, the motion of the door won't swing the clapper enough, if it's too small, it won't be loud enough.
posted by jamaro at 12:39 PM on October 12, 2007

If there is a broom or other implement handy a smart child can easily get out of that hook and eye. Mine did it at age three.

But having said that, it did work for awhile. He could get out the locked front door at two and a half.
posted by konolia at 12:43 PM on October 12, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks.

Lekvar: Thanks for the idea. I still don't understand ow the flip-over door lock works. Can you explain again in dead simple language? I can't figure it out.

The bell and alarm ideas are great. I'll see about those, too. In fact, that may also solve a problem with a sliding door (which already has a key lock).

My husband doesn't want to use anything that attaches to the moulding, since it may damage the moulding.

Something like a hook and eye lock is okay, because it wouldn't be locked unless someone locked it. (However, it attaches to the moulding, so I just mean the idea.) But I'm not sure you can get through a lever lock from the other side. (I am okay with things that are temporarily locked, since whoever is home can just unlock it.)
posted by acoutu at 1:25 PM on October 12, 2007

The flip-over lock is like a hinge, but it locks into one of two positions. Folded double, it rests out of the way of the door, allowing it to open or shut freely. Unfolded (as pictured in the link) it prevents the door from opening. However, it screws into the door moulding with the hinged are flush to the edge of the door. I didn't see the prohibition against screws in the moulding before, so this lock probably isn't your best solution.
posted by lekvar at 1:32 PM on October 12, 2007

We've installed one of these at the top of our front door. The catch-plate is installed on the top door jamb and the latch slides into the hole. A standard kid tool (yard stick, broom) isn't enough to unlatch it -- although a loop of string thrown over the handle would do it...
posted by pmbuko at 1:58 PM on October 12, 2007

patio lock

lever lock
and here

I haven't tried any of them, but they might work for a bit.
posted by moonlite at 10:16 PM on October 12, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks. I just looked above and saw that one or two sentences from my original post went missing. Because of the nature of the moulding around the door and the lack of a stud behind it, we can't really attach anything to the moulding. And the moulding is too wide to allow us to go past the moulding. However, I picked up a set of 4 door chimes/alarms for $17 today. They attach with adhesive and they ring if the contact is broken. I can have it on when I'm home and turn it off if someone is coming home or if I need to answer the door. The alarm is really loud, so I can hear it from anywhere. I'm also putting one on the balcony door, which has some odd characteristics that resulted in us having to jerry-rig a key lock for it. This is a nice back-up.

I appreciate all the answers. I'll see if we can modify any of these ideas to work with our moulding.
posted by acoutu at 4:06 PM on October 13, 2007

Response by poster: I just wanted to add that the lever lock is a great idea, but they apparently won't work on doors that have a lock in them. So they are okay for bedrooms, but not front doors.
posted by acoutu at 4:10 PM on October 13, 2007

Whatever you do, dont install one of the locks with a ring on it. I had a friend growing up that managed to climb on a high enough stool and get his finger in the loop. The stool tipped, he fell, and off came his finger at the second knuckle.
posted by enobeet at 10:52 AM on October 19, 2007

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