Person in white lab coat opening large fridge door

What to Do if You Get Stuck in a Commercial Refrigerator

Imagine this: you're organizing inventory or perhaps reaching for that last ingredient in the back of a commercial refrigerator, and the door suddenly shuts behind you. You’ve probably seen it happen in movies or TV, like season 2 of The Bear. While it is a stressful plot point for Chef Carmy in that show, this can be scary if it does happen to you in real life. Although it’s unlikely, knowing what to do is crucial. Here is what to do if you get stuck in a commercial refrigerator while at work.

Stay Calm and Find the Safety Release

If you do get stuck, remain calm. Modern commercial refrigerators are equipped with internal safety release mechanisms designed to prevent accidental entrapment. These mechanisms are typically easy to find and use, even in low-light conditions. Search for a push button or a pull lever, usually located near the door handle inside. Pressing or pulling this should immediately open the door. Remember, panic is your biggest enemy in any emergency situation.

Call for Help If Necessary

If, for some reason, the safety release isn't functioning or you're unable to locate it, it's vital to call for help. Shout for the attention of nearby colleagues or bang on the door to make noise. If you have a cell phone, contact someone in your business at your location, or if no one else is here, contact 911. The sooner you alert someone to your situation, the sooner you can be safely extricated from the cold confines of the fridge.

Understand the Risks

Being stuck in a commercial refrigerator poses significant risks, including hypothermia and frostbite, especially if you're trapped for an extended period. These refrigerators are designed to keep food items fresh by maintaining temperatures well below the average room temperature, often between 35°F and 38°F, which can quickly affect body temperature. Recognizing the signs of hypothermia, such as shivering, slurred speech, and sluggishness, is critical so you can take steps to mitigate them while awaiting rescue.

The Importance of Regular Maintenance

The best defense against getting stuck in a fridge is regular maintenance. Routine checks can prevent potential malfunctions, such as faulty safety releases, ensuring everyone who uses them can do so without fear. These comprehensive inspections cover everything from door seals and auto-closers to safety releases and temperature controls.

Avoiding Future Incidents

Prevention is, without doubt, the best approach. Here are a few tips to avoid getting stuck in a commercial refrigerator:

  • Regularly test the safety release: Familiarize yourself and your team with its location and operation.
  • Keep a working cell phone handy: Ensure it's charged and within reach whenever entering the fridge.
  • Never enter alone: If possible, make sure someone knows when you’re going in and when you expect to come out.
  • Schedule routine maintenance: Schedule maintenance every six months to keep your refrigeration units in top condition.

Rental Refrigeration if Yours Breaks Down

Before your fridge breaks down and presents problems, it’s best to get a new refrigerator or fix your current one. But this could mean your products are at risk. That’s where Cool It! comes in. We can provide you with accessible and efficient portable cold storage rentals when yours are not working. Ensure your business and products are safe and never without the proper cold storage.


Find a Cool It! Location Near You

While the thought of being trapped in a commercial refrigerator may send shivers down your spine, being prepared can significantly reduce the risk of harm. Knowledge keeps you prepared, and Cool It! keeps you in business.

Find a Cool It! location near you today to get cold storage rentals when you need it most.