Refrigerator
Refrigerator

Refrigerator death

A refrigerator death is death by suffocation in a refrigerator or similar appliance such as a freezer. Because, by design, such appliances are air-tight when closed, a person trapped inside will have a limited supply of oxygen. Early refrigerators could only be opened from the outside, making accidental trappings a possibility, particularly of children playing with discarded appliances; several such deaths have been recorded. Modern designs close with a magnetic mechanism that can be opened from the inside, reducing the danger of accidental trappings.
Children would occasionally play in abandoned appliances, such as refrigerators and washing machines, and become trapped. Deaths were not uncommon for children in the United States before the passage of the Refrigerator Safety Act in 1956. The first reactions to the deaths were to ask people not to abandon refrigerators and to detach the doors of unused refrigerators. At least one state, Oklahoma, enacted legislation making the abandonment of a refrigerator with a latch in a location where a child might find it a felony. At least as early as 1954, alternative methods of securing air-tight closures had been suggested, such as in patent 2767011, filed by Francis P. Buckley et al. in 1954 and issued in 1956. In the mid- to late 1950s troops of people would sometimes search out abandoned refrigerators, detaching the doors and smashing the locks. However, these efforts were not entirely effective, and children were still dying inside refrigerators that had not been found and dismantled.
The continued occurrence of refrigerator deaths led to a law that required a change in the way refrigerator doors stay shut. The Refrigerator Safety Act is codified at 15 U.S.C. 1211-1214 as Public Law 84-930, 70 Stat. 953, on August 2, 1956. The act applied to all refrigerators manufactured in the United States after October 31, 1958, and is largely responsible for the adoption of the magnetic mechanism that is used today instead of a latch. Individual American states also have similar laws, such as California and Washington.
The number of deaths due to suffocation in refrigerators declined a significant amount in the years after the law. Nevertheless, some deaths have occurred recently. Three children ages, 1yo, 4yo, & 6yo died after climbing into an unused freezer/fridge outside of Tallahassee, FL after mother left them unattended for 20 mins. - Jan 2019.