Knowing when something doesn't look right and trusting gut instincts are critical skills for Fort Leonard Wood's Directorate of Emergency Services deputy director.

Those abilities were tested June 16 when Don Rose drove home from work.

"Out of the corner of my eye, out in a gravel parking lot, I saw a lady doing something to her windshield," said Rose, who has been the DES deputy director for nine years.

The lady was outside of her vehicle with "something wrapped around her hand, and I thought to myself, 'Was she banging or wiping something off her windshield,'" Rose said. "It's hard to describe, but I thought to myself, 'What did I just see.'"

Rose drove about a quarter-mile down the road when he decided to turn around.

"It bothered me," he said, "so, I pulled back."

Relying on his instincts proved to be right.

"I got out of my vehicle and asked, 'Ma'am are you OK?'" he said. "And she told me she locked her keys in the car."

Her infant was also in the car.

The woman had a good start at breaking her windshield and Rose "just gave her a little help."

"I grabbed my tool box, I had a hammer, and I just busted her window," he said.

Although the infant was not in distress or harmed in the excessive heat, Rose said the incident serves as a reminder about the importance of preventing locked keys in vehicles.

According to the American Automobile Association, also known as AAA, about four million "locked-out motorists" call the company for assistance each year.

DES Patrol Captain Robert Ishmael provided a few tips to help prevent locked keys in vehicles.

His first tip is to create an exit strategy, which is a dedicated way of gathering all items, such as a purse or backpack, before exiting the vehicle.

"Do that exact same strategy every time you exit your vehicle, and you will always have your keys with you," he said.

In addition to creating an exit strategy, Ishmael suggests purchasing a lanyard, a carabiner or a wristband "to keep vehicle keys with you at all times."

The last tip Ishmael recommends is to make a copy of a vehicle key to keep in a purse or wallet.
"Most people never leave their purse or wallet in a car, so you will always have an extra key available there," he said.

Ishmael's last advice to motorists is to avoid "hide-a-way keys."

"Stay away from hide-a-way keys because criminals are aware of those and know where they are routinely kept," he said.

As for Rose, he said it never hurts for motorists to keep a tool box with a hammer in their vehicles.