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How To Survive A Night In A Walk-In Freezer

on Tue, 11/18/2014 - 16:59


6 Tips That Will Help You Survive When You Get Locked Inside A Walk-In Freezer

It’s one of those rare death scenarios you deny giving much thought to. It isn’t until you’re shivering inside that giant icebox, stuck overnight due to your own foolishness or someone else’s, that you realize you should have read these survival tips.

1. Don’t Panic

Before you freak out, search for a door release button or an emergency alarm. If these buttons aren’t functioning, curse whoever is in charge of the freezer maintenance but remain calm. The most common cause of a stuck freezer door is a broken heating strip. These strips are placed in the doorframe to prevent ice buildup, and will cause the door to stick when it’s not working properly. A swift ninja kick or shoulder ram to the door should set you free if this is the case.


2. Form An Insulated Suit

If you’re still stuck, hypothermia should be your first concern, as the FDA requires the temperature of all walk-in freezers to measure between 0° F and -10° F. Check for a fan switch or pump down switch, which will slightly reduce the wind-chill effect when turned off. It probably looks like a light switch and is kept in a moisture resistant enclosure on or near the evaporator.

Then quickly create an insulated suit out of material found in the freezer to prevent loss of body heat. The thin plastic that hangs in front of the door is a strong option, assuming you have tape or rope to hold it together. If you don’t, rip masking tape off produce boxes or tear burlap sacks into strips. Stuff your shirt and pants with packing materials such as newspaper, bubble wrap, and packing peanuts. This is not Project Runway, use what you have resourcefully.


3. Cover All Exposed Skin

It’s worse than your high school’s dress code, NO skin should be exposed. Body heat will escape rapidly from any uncovered areas, leading to hypothermia and frostbite. Use extra clothing or found materials to wrap around your head, hands, and all other exposed areas. Any remaining plastic from the door can be used to build a protective barrier or igloo. Mild hypothermia begins when your body drops a mere 1.8° F, so speed is essential.


4. Do Not Sit On The Floor

Direct contact with the cold concrete floor and metal walls will accelerate the speed in which your body temperature drops and increase your chance in getting frostbite. Pile up empty cardboard boxes or packing materials to sit on. Then prepare yourself to wait.


5. Do Not Exercise

You may think your best chance at survival is by doing some jumping jacks or pushups to help blood flow, and reduce your chances for hypothermia. However, since you’re confined in a small and likely air tight space, your oxygen supply is limited. Doing any form of activity which causes you to breathe heavier than normal will suck up more oxygen than necessary, inevitably decreasing your chance for survival.


6. Hope For Poor Maintenance

If you’re stuck in a walk-in freezer at work, it’s likely the maintenance hasn’t been kept up in more areas than just a broken door release button. Hope that its malfunctions are in your favor and the temperature of the freezer is more than slightly above FDA regulations. Also hope for leaks around the door, causing a higher oxygen level. This can be recognized by the snow piles on the shelves.

Click here for more on HVAC/R leak detection products.

Note: If you’re reading this from inside a freezer, low oxygen levels may have impaired your ability to realize that you have internet access and can therefore contact someone to open the doors for you.