There have been many unfortunate tragedies whereby people have been killed by refrigerators and freezers over the years. From poor designs on early models to simple bad luck, these accidents run the gamut. Below I explain some of the accidents that have occurred, and demonstrate the dangers these cooling appliances can potentially pose to the unwary.
Suffocation in a Fridge
Old style refrigerators – manufactures in the 1950s and earlier – were frequently the cause of the death of children. These fridges had mechanical latches that kept the doors sealed, and which made them impossible to open from inside.
Kids would often find an old abandoned fridge and decide to use it as a toy. Upon climbing inside and closing the door they would be tragically trapped and unable to escape. It is believed that hundreds of children – frequently along with a friend – died in this way in the 1940s and 1950s.
Eventually Congress decided it needed to take action, and in October 1958 the Refrigerator Safety Act came into force. From that point on all new refrigerators sold had to be easily opened from the inside with a moderate 15 pound force.
This law led to the replacement of the mechanical latch with the magnetic seals used to keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed today. This life-saving technology has saved the lives of hundreds or even thousands of children since it was first introduced.
Freezing to Death inside a Refrigerator
In some parts of the world, large refrigerators are offered as cool-down facilities for overheated locals. Enterprising businessman setup large refrigerators and charge people to sit inside them to cool down.
In Sudan locals are charge five Sudanese pounds – roughly $2 – per hour to escape the heat inside one of these refrigerators. This sum of money is a substantial amount in the Sudan, but can offer life-saving relief from the potentially fatal heat of Sudan in the summer.
Unfortunately for three unlucky customers, there was a terrible failure in the business model of these entrepreneurs. While it is not entirely sure how this came about, these three people froze to death in one of these refrigerators; their attempt to escape the extremes of the heat outdoors leading to their death by freezing.
Crushed by a Falling Fridge Freezer
Whilst this may sound like a plot line from a Three Stooges movie, this is no laughing matter. A worker on a construction crew in Wisconsin, engaged in the process of an apartment renovation, was killed by a fridge falling four floors to the ground.
Old equipment was being removed from the building – including the old refrigerator. It was pushed from the fourth floor balcony to the ground, which was believed to be clear. Through a tragic misfortune the victim unfortunately stepped beneath the fridges flight path as it fell to the ground.
If you are aware of any other dangers that refrigerators can present, please let me know in the comments.