Graveyard Shift
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How To Survive If You Get Stuck In A Walk-In Freezer

Updated October 9, 2019 17.1k views10 items

It's a nightmare scenario, but an all too plausible one. You’re rushing to get out of work early, or you’re the last person in the restaurant and you’re ready to go. You're storing items in the walk-in freezer, you're not paying attention, and then... click. You’re locked in, with no one around to help you escape. What do you do?

If claustrophobia is setting in and you think you’re running out of air, it's important to remember you’ve got plenty of time to survive. There are myriad ways to break out of a storage freezer. Some freezers have an emergency latch, but they don’t always work. To survive your personal storage-freezer horror story, you need to memorize these helpful hints for survival. If you retain nothing else from this, at least remember a simple line of advice: don't freak out.

  • Photo: David Maul / Library of Congress / Public Domain

    Stay Calm

    When you find yourself stuck in a walk-in freezer, you need to stay calm. If you lose your cool, you're going to burn the energy your body needs to survive. 

    You're going to be shivering, which burns a lot of energy already, so your best bet is to remain calm and think your way out of the situation. Your plight might feel dire, but if you keep your wits about you, you'll be out of the freezer in no time.

  • Check To See If You Still Have A Phone Signal

    The easiest way to get out of a walk-in freezer is to call someone you work with (or 911, if you're alone) and explain your predicament. The moment you realize you're locked in, check your cell and see if you have reception. 

    Due to the freezer's thick walls, it's likely your reception will be blocked - but it never hurts to try and make a call. One bar of service could make all the difference.

  • Photo: Historic American Engineering Record / Library of Congress / Public Domain

    Make Sure The Heating Strips Aren't Jamming The Door

    Heat strips are the wires that keep the door heated so it doesn't freeze shut. Depending on the design of the freezer, the strips are either inside the door or they run along the sides. 

    If you find yourself stuck inside a freezer, check to make sure the heating strips aren't jamming the door shut. They often slip under the door and keep it from opening.

    If the wires aren't stuck and you're not going to electrocute yourself by touching them, get them out of the way, un-jam the door, and get out of that freezer.

  • Photo: Charles Hugh Stevenson / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Examine The Rest Of Your Surroundings

    If you can't escape a locked freezer and there's nothing wrong with the door, turn around, check out the rest of the room, and see what you can find.

    At this point, it's you against the elements; you need to use whatever you have at your disposal to stay warm. Assuming you're in a restaurant, there are definitely going to be boxes you can use to make a shelter or otherwise cover your body.

    In some instances, there may be plastic curtains separating the various sections of the freezer. If that's the case, get those curtains down however you can and wrap them around you. Everything counts.