How to Survive Being Locked in a Walk-In Freezer: Prevention, Tips and Strategies

Walk-in freezers are an integral part of any business and sometimes being accidentally locked inside can happen. If this occurs, do not panic. This guide will share some tips and strategies that you may use to get help and how to prevent getting locked in.

wear warm clothing




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What Happens if I Accidentally Lock Myself Inside the Walk-In Freezer?

Getting locked inside a walk-in freezer can be a dangerous thing. You will lose body heat and possibly have hypothermia or frostbite, additionally, you may also experience dizziness because of low oxygen levels. Remember to stay calm and signal for help.


The Following are the Common Problems that may occur if a Person gets locked inside a Walk-In Freezer:


1. Hypothermia:

There are two possible outcomes of being exposed to harsh cold conditions. One is Hypothermia which occurs when you become exposed to cold elements such as air or water for long periods. It lowers your body temperature faster than it can produce and may cause shivering and confusion. Extremely low body temperature may lead to death if not immediately treated.



2. Frostbite:

This is another possible outcome of being exposed to cold conditions. Frostbite occurs when you spend long periods in extremely cold conditions where tissues of the body are severely damaged that amputation is the only solution. It starts as numbness, tingling sensation, and even blisters on the affected part.


3. Decreased Oxygen

Walk-in freezers are usually airtight. The oxygen level decreases the longer you stay inside. You may have trouble breathing which results to dizziness or lightheadedness.

oxygen level decreases inside walk-in freezer


4. Panic and Anxiety:

Any person will panic and feel anxious when locked inside any room. Panicking makes you breathe harder and your heart beat faster.



What Can Cause a Walk-In Freezer Door to Accidentally Lock?

The following are some of the common reasons why walk-in freezers unexpectedly lock by themselves.


1. Mechanical Issues


Malfunction of the Locking Mechanism

Doors often malfunction because of broken or defective parts such as springs or latches which prevent it from opening.

Walk-in freezer Door malfunction


Improper Closing of the Door Due to Damage or Misalignment

There are times when locks automatically engage even if they should not. This usually happens when the door itself is damaged or is misaligned.


Pressure Related Issues

For a cold room to function, low pressure is needed. When pressure spikes or suddenly increases due to a pressure valve malfunction, the door locks tighten.


2. Human Error


Accidental Locking

There are instances where staff locks the door from the outside without checking if there are any persons working inside.


Disabled Emergency Release Button

In some cases, the person inside the freezer accidentally disables or presses the emergency release button. This button can shut down the locking mechanism preventing the door from opening when pressed.

Disabled Emergency Release Button


3. Ice Build Up

Water drippings or leakages inside the freezer should be avoided because these leakages form layers of ice around the door frame preventing it from being opened.



What do I Need to do to Survive Being Locked Inside?

You need to stay calm and call the attention of other staff and personnel by banging on the door or shouting for help. The following are some tips for surviving being locked inside a freezer.


1. Stay Calm and Minimize Unnecessary Movements

Panic only worsens things. It increases your breathing rate which consumes more oxygen and unnecessary movements make you lose body heat rapidly.


2. Signal for Help

Make noise to get attention. Banging on the door or shouting for help usually gets the attention of the staff or personnel. If you have a working phone or mobile phone, call for help immediately.

Make noise and ask for help


3. Keep Yourself Warm


Gather Usable Materials to Create a Makeshift Covering for your Body.

While waiting for help, spend your time finding any material that may help you warm yourself. Cartons, cardboard, plastic wraps, or even packaging for food are the ones that are commonly available and can provide you with enough insulation to decrease the loss of body heat.


Cover Exposed Skin.

Find any available materials to create artificial clothing that can cover the exposed skin as this helps in keeping your body warm.


Avoid Metal Contact

Avoid being in contact with metals as they absorb heat from your body making you lose more body heat.


4. Stay Mentally Strong


Practice Relaxation Techniques

Take slow deep breaths. This will help regulate your heart rate, reduce anxiety, and make you calm.


Be optimistic.

It won’t help you retain body heat, but it will keep you from panicking and being anxious.

Be optimistic and stop panicking



How Do I Prevent Being Locked Inside a Walk-In Freezer?

There are several ways how to avoid being accidentally locked inside the walk-in freezer. These are the following.


1. Implement a Buddy System

Always inform someone before going inside the walk-in freezer. Provide them with information such as how long you are going to stay inside. Ask them to periodically check on you to confirm your safety. Implementing a buddy system provides you with advantages as they can ensure your safety. This is the the importance of communication. 


2. Include Door Inspection in the Daily Checklist

Regular inspection is important to prevent accidental lock-ins as it ensures that each component is functioning properly. Include the checking of door latches, hinges, seals, and emergency release mechanisms on the checklist.


3. Installing a Door Entrapment Alarm

This is a device used to communicate with people outside the walk-in freezer. It is usually installed inside the unit and has a button that can be activated by the person locked inside. If triggered, an alarm with a sound and a red light will flash to alert the people outside.

4. Conduct Regular training.

Providing staff with regular training  will decrease the occurrence of accidental lock-ins. They will be equipped with the necessary to respond to such situations.

walk-in freezer


Determine the Safety Features 

It is always necessary that all personnel are familiar with the safety features of the walk-in freezer. You may refer to the manual or even better, a professional to understand it better. Being familiar with the safety features improves the awareness and preparedness of the personnel.


Emergency Protocols

Providing all personnel the knowledge about the emergency protocols with equip them the knowledge of what to do in those situations. Information on what to do is a precious knowledge to have.

Location of Emergency Release Mechanism.

Do not just use words to inform your employees, instead, take them to the walk-in freezer and show them the location of the emergency release mechanism. The information can save their lives especially when the risk of hypothermia and frostbite are a possibility.


Training about Signs and Symptoms of Hypothermia and Frostbites

Information dissemination about hypothermia and frostbite will educate your staff on how to deal with those risks. They will be able to recognize the symptoms and will be informed of the proper methods to prevent them from occurring or worsening.


Staying Calm should be Emphasized.

Training should include ways of keeping calm, taking deep breaths, and staying focused to improve the chances of survival.


5. Conducting Drills or Simulations

By conducting simulations, it can increase the preparedness of your staff when the real situation happens. Drills build a confident workforce and support staff ready to effectively handle emergencies.


The Following are the Steps to Follow when Conducting Drills or Simulations:


Step 1. Briefing: About Safety Measures and Scenario Planning.

Create a scenario or simulate a lock-in emergency situation. Explain the objectives and purpose to the participants as well as the observers. Make sure that a qualified first aider is present for safety purposes.

Briefing about the objectives and purpose of the drill

Step 2. Initiate Lock-in Scenario

Before starting the simulation, make sure that the participant who will be locked in is wearing proper protective equipment. Inform everyone before starting the drill then simulate the planned scenario where the locked-in participant is unable to open the door from the inside.


Step 3. Check if the Established Procedure is Followed Properly.

The goal of the simulation is to survive inside the walk-in freezer for a certain period. Check if the participant is following the established procedures such as:

  •       Staying calm and focused.
  •       Asking for help by banging, shouting, or using the entrapment alarm system if there are any.
  •       Using the emergency release mechanisms properly.
  •       Looking for available materials that can be used as clothing or insulation to preserve body heat.
  •       Maintaining a positive mindset and having the mental strength to avoid anxiety and panic attacks.



Step 4. Checking What the “Buddy” is Doing.

The participant or “buddy” outside the walk-in freezer should:

  •       Check the participant inside the walk-in according to the pre-established intervals.
  •       Alert others and ask for help by following the procedures if in case the locked-in personnel are not responding,


Step 5. End the Drill and conduct a Post-Conference meeting

After ending the simulation, conduct a post-conference to talk about the observations.

The post-conference session should include:

  1.     Group discussion to review the flow of the drill.
  2.     Identification of the areas for improvement.
  3.     Addressing any questions or concerns by the participants and observers
  4.     Feedback on the procedure and the strengths and weaknesses observed.

It is also advisable to start with simple drills and then gradually increase the complexity of situations. Do unannounced drills to assess if the protocols are being followed in emergency situations.



Frequently Asked Questions:


What Safety Features Should Walk-In Freezers Have?

Emergency release mechanisms are one of the most important safety features to have. This mechanism allows any individual to open the door in case the door malfunctions. Another safety feature to consider is the entrapment alarm system to inform the people outside quickly in the event of an accidental lock-in.

inside the walk-in freezer


What Safety Measures Should be Taken While Working Inside a Walk-In Freezer?

Always wear warm clothing and limit the time spent inside the walk-in freezer. Do not forget to inform someone before entering and look out for signs of hypothermia or frostbite and remember to familiarize yourself with all the protocols and procedures.




Being locked inside any room is a frightening experience, what more inside a walk-in freezer? Accidents can happen at any time, at any place. It may be a frightening experience but if you are prepared and well-informed you will be able to survive this predicament. Following the standard procedures and knowledge of the important concepts and protocols will save your life.

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