PDA

View Full Version : Help, I Am Locked In A Freezer: Will I Suffocate Before I Freeze?


Scissorjack
01-28-2009, 03:06 PM
For the purposes of this thread I've accidentally shut myself inside a chest freezer with a volume of 1.5 cubic metres and chilled to -4 degrees centigrade. I'm a largish guy, 180cm and 90kg. Will I suffocate before I freeze, or vice versa?

UncleBill
01-28-2009, 03:08 PM
Need answer fast?

Scissorjack
01-28-2009, 03:13 PM
I should probably mention that I'm naked, so have no external insulation to retard any heat loss.

Ximenean
01-28-2009, 03:29 PM
For the purposes of this thread I've accidentally shut myself inside a chest freezer
This is a logical contradiction, surely? If you did it for the purposes of this thread, then it wasn't accidental.
But, you know, I admire your commitment to the cause of fighting ignorance.

Nanoda
01-28-2009, 03:31 PM
No answer, but first bad news is that (assuming you're mostly water), there's actually only ~1.4 m^3 of air in there, 'cause you're taking up some space.

Good wifi considering though.

gazpacho
01-28-2009, 03:32 PM
From browsing the web it looks like the rest consumption of oxygen is around 20 ml/kg/min. The amount of oxygen in the air is around 21% so you have about 300l of oxygen in the freezer. At 90Kg you use about 1.8l a minute so it looks like you have about 166 minutes of air. That seems to me to be a pretty long time to be naked in freezing weather.

Minus 4 C seems pretty hot for a freezer. Mine is at about -18C or 0F.

http://home.hia.no/~stephens/vo2max.htm is where I extrapolated the 20 ml/kg/min from.

KneadToKnow
01-28-2009, 03:50 PM
How's the wifi in there?

dolphinboy
01-28-2009, 03:53 PM
My money is on suffocating before you freeze to death. I believe that people can live for days out in freezing weather with little clothing (no cite). However as you start to panic you will increase your consumption of oxygen. Meanwhile the level of CO2 will be rising. I can't imagine you surviving long enough to freeze to death... let us know how it all turns out.

YamatoTwinkie
01-28-2009, 03:59 PM
From browsing the web it looks like the rest consumption of oxygen is around 20 ml/kg/min. The amount of oxygen in the air is around 21% so you have about 300l of oxygen in the freezer. At 90Kg you use about 1.8l a minute so it looks like you have about 166 minutes of air.

I think CO2 buildup is going to be the big killer here, no?

CO2 in concentrations of 7% to 10% cause dizziness, headache, visual and hearing dysfunction, and unconsciousness within a few minutes to an hour

Finagle
01-28-2009, 04:05 PM
Either way, we won't know if you're alive or dead until we open the box.

Generally speaking, -4C would be pretty darned uncomfortable to be lying around in naked, but there are reports (http://salemnews.com/punews/local_story_022235526.html) of people surviving much colder temperatures for quite a while and then being revived (http://pendletoday.co.uk/strange-but-true/Woman-survives-three-days-buried.4822823.jp). So I'd give my vote to suffocation. Note, though, that's it's a trade-off. The colder you get, the slower your respiration gets, so the oxygen lasts longer. But if you exercise or move about (which you could probably do in 1.5 cu meters), you stay warmer, but burn up oxygen. That means that there's probably no hard and fast answer.

FoieGrasIsEvil
01-28-2009, 04:06 PM
Wouldn't you die of shock or hypothermia first?

Meeko
01-28-2009, 04:06 PM
Either way, we won't know if you're alive or dead until we open the box.



So he is both alive and dead, right?

Now if you will excuse me I have this cat I have to let out.

Yllaria
01-28-2009, 05:01 PM
Naked in a freezer and the whole board knows? I'd die of embarassment.

Xema
01-28-2009, 05:35 PM
For the purposes of this thread I've accidentally shut myself inside a chest freezer...
Given that's it's common practice (and very possibly a requirement) that freezer doors be easily openably from the inside, you're only in trouble if you fail to attempt to leave - or if a nefarious confederate has barricaded the door.

01-29-2009, 02:01 AM
Given that's it's common practice (and very possibly a requirement) that freezer doors be easily openably from the inside, you're only in trouble if you fail to attempt to leave - or if a nefarious confederate has barricaded the door.That's in commercial type, walk-in freezers. The OP talks about a home chest freezer. Those don't have inside door handles. (I don't know why not, seems like it would be pretty easy to engineer.)

willthekittensurvive?
01-29-2009, 03:46 AM
Now if you will excuse me I have this cat I have to let out.

*scratches the door*

guizot
01-29-2009, 03:57 AM
If you accidentally end up locked in a freezer naked, you've got more important things to worry about than death.

Hostile Dialect
01-29-2009, 04:20 AM
I think CO2 buildup is going to be the big killer here, no?

Errr.....if he goes unconscious after a few minutes, isn't he going to start consuming much less oxygen and be much less bothered by the cold?

Hostile Dialect,
Hostile Dialect, Narcissist

Mogle
01-29-2009, 05:31 AM
That's in commercial type, walk-in freezers. The OP talks about a home chest freezer. Those don't have inside door handles. (I don't know why not, seems like it would be pretty easy to engineer.)

Personally I've never seen one with a lock, the only thing that's keeping them closed is gravity and air pressure, so the only thing you'd need to do to open it from the inside is push.

MikeS
01-29-2009, 07:33 AM
The amount of oxygen in the air is around 21% so you have about 300l of oxygen in the freezer. Scissorjack's 90-kg body is going to displace about 90 L of what would otherwise be air in the freezer, so this number should be closer to about 280 L.

Mama Zappa
01-29-2009, 12:30 PM
That laptop you're using to post is putting out a fair bit of heat, so my vote's on suffocating.

DudleyGarrett
01-29-2009, 12:31 PM
Get out of the freezer before you die, fool!

RedSwinglineOne
01-29-2009, 01:27 PM
For the purposes of this thread I've accidentally shut myself inside a chest freezer with a volume of 1.5 cubic metres and chilled to -4 degrees centigrade. I'm a largish guy, 180cm and 90kg. Will I suffocate before I freeze, or vice versa?

First, assume Scissorjack is a sphere...

YamatoTwinkie
01-29-2009, 05:22 PM
I think CO2 buildup is going to be the big killer here, no?

On second thought, nevermind. CO2 respiration rate for an average person is 450L/day (0.3125L/min). Standard atmospheric content of CO2 is 0.039%.

So with 1.4m^3 of breathable air, about 5L of it is CO2. To get to toxic levels (assume 8% concentration of CO2) would require about 112L of the air content in the freezer to be CO2.

So to go from 5L->112L, it would take about (112-5)/0.3125=342 minutes.

Duckster
01-29-2009, 09:24 PM
Brings new meaning to, "Honey I'm going to the freezer to grab some nuggets. You want a frozen twinkie?"

Tom Tildrum
01-30-2009, 12:23 AM
Minus 4 C seems pretty hot for a freezer. Mine is at about -18C or 0F.

Presumably you don't have a live body in yours, though. :p

Agonist
01-30-2009, 01:58 AM
Are freezers really airtight? Assuming the door is actually locked, or jammed shut somehow, would he really suffocate?

I know there's a seal on all fridge and freezer doors, but I don't know that they're all that efficient.

Scissorjack
01-30-2009, 03:59 AM
Get out of the freezer before you die, fool!

It's nice and quiet in here.

Quercus
01-30-2009, 08:42 AM
Are freezers really airtight? Assuming the door is actually locked, or jammed shut somehow, would he really suffocate?

I know there's a seal on all fridge and freezer doors, but I don't know that they're all that efficient.They're close enough to airtight to suffocate you. Back in the 1970's or so, there was a concerted effort to make sure that discarded refrigerators had their doors removed, in order to prevent children from playing with it, being trapped inside, and dying. I assume there were actual tragedies spurring this effort.

Wile E
01-30-2009, 11:24 AM
When I was a kid we had one of those upright freezers, looked like a refrigerator, but was all freezer. Sometimes when you'd open and close it you couldn't open it again right away, or at least it was really hard to open. I saw this phenomenon on a recent Top Chef, too. Everybody was opening and closing the upright freezer and then Fabio wasn't able to open it and had to brace himself and pull really hard to open it. Is this vapor lock or some other phenomena?

Maybe this sort of thing happened to poor Scissorjack? Poor guy. Hey does anyone remember that time he started that hilarious thread about getting locked in a freezer?







Too soon?

XT
01-30-2009, 11:48 AM
As Eddie Murphy said, take small shallow breaths. *sip...sip*

I don't think this question can really be answered until the OP expires and we send in a forensic team. My suggestion is to figure out a way to drill a small hole into the fridge and take an air sample first to check CO2 levels, and then bring the OP out and do an autopsy. Cause of death should be fairly easy to determine at that point and then the results can be posted here to settle the question. After that we can throw the OP on the grill and serve him up with some baked beans and corn on the cob...

-XT

Khampelf
01-30-2009, 12:00 PM
They're close enough to airtight to suffocate you. Back in the 1970's or so, there was a concerted effort to make sure that discarded refrigerators had their doors removed, in order to prevent children from playing with it, being trapped inside, and dying. I assume there were actual tragedies spurring this effort.

(some of) The refrigerators being discarded in those days were the old style (even then) with locking handles, you couldn't open them from the inside. I don't know if it was law or common sense that led manufacturers to adopt doors that can be open from the inside.

I've seen chest style freezers with locks, but key locks you couldn't activate from the inside.

OK, who locked ScissorJack in the freezer? I doubt it was a confederate, unless he had showed up at a Civil War re-enactment dressed as Abe Lincoln, or something.

MikeS
01-30-2009, 12:13 PM
They're close enough to airtight to suffocate you. Back in the 1970's or so, there was a concerted effort to make sure that discarded refrigerators had their doors removed, in order to prevent children from playing with it, being trapped inside, and dying. I assume there were actual tragedies spurring this effort.This was a concern since the 1950's, actually — here's Cecil's column on the subject (https://academicpursuits.us/columns/read/2586/is-it-impossible-to-open-a-refrigerator-door-from-the-inside).

The Devil's Grandmother
01-30-2009, 12:31 PM
Personally I've never seen one with a lock, the only thing that's keeping them closed is gravity and air pressure, so the only thing you'd need to do to open it from the inside is push.
My home chest freezer has a lock on it. I've never used it (I assume it's to keep others out of the girl scout cookies). Looks like the locks are fairly common on the largers chest freezers, like this one from Sears (http://sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_04616592000P?vName=Appliances&cName=Freezers+%26+Ice+Makers&sName=Chest).

Mama Zappa
01-30-2009, 12:38 PM
Personally I've never seen one with a lock, the only thing that's keeping them closed is gravity and air pressure, so the only thing you'd need to do to open it from the inside is push.
I think a lot of spare freezers have locks - the thinking being that a lot of people keep them in their garages / carports / other unsecured areas.

Mine does - it's an upright as footprint / floor space was an issue. Although I've never used the key; mine lives in the basement.

It'd be hard to get shut in one of those by accident, of course.

01-30-2009, 06:17 PM
(some of)I don't know if it was law or common sense that led manufacturers to adopt doors that can be open from the inside.Neither -- it was cost-cutting for greater profit.

Most current ones have a magnet that holds the door shut. That's much simpler (and cheaper to manufacture) than any kind of a latch mechanism. And unlikely to ever need repair.

gazpacho
01-30-2009, 06:25 PM
Neither -- it was cost-cutting for greater profit.

Most current ones have a magnet that holds the door shut. That's much simpler (and cheaper to manufacture) than any kind of a latch mechanism. And unlikely to ever need repair.Cecil says pretty much exactly the opposite. Manufactures resisted using the magnetic seal until forced to by legislation. If the magnetic seal really was so much cheaper they would have made the switch on their own.

MikeS put this link in a few posts ago I am repeating it for clarity
https://academicpursuits.us/columns/read/2586/is-it-impossible-to-open-a-refrigerator-door-from-the-inside
Some local jurisdictions passed ordinances requiring owners of old refrigerators to remove the doors or latches before discarding them, but eventually federal legislators decided the time had come for a national solution. Manufacturers balked, saying the technology wasn't available, it'd cost too much, blah blah blah. Congress finally said screw it, you guys figure something out, and in 1956 passed the Refrigerator Safety Act, which required that the doors on all fridges sold after October 30, 1958, be capable of being opened with a 15-pound push from inside. Miraculously, a practical, inexpensive technology immediately appeared--a magnetic door seal. Truth was, the new seal had been developed some time earlier by General Electric, which offered to license the system to other manufacturers, but industry experts caviled that it still needed work. Faced with a deadline, however, pretty much everybody adopted magnetic seals, which in the event worked just fine, and we still use them today.

Fish
01-30-2009, 06:34 PM
Ah, yes, the old Frözinger's Cat experiment.

Elendil's Heir
01-30-2009, 07:32 PM
This was a concern since the 1950's, actually — here's Cecil's column on the subject (https://academicpursuits.us/columns/read/2586/is-it-impossible-to-open-a-refrigerator-door-from-the-inside).

I remember that Stephen King very creepily alluded to the problem in a short story of his - "The Mangler," maybe?

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: [email protected]

Send comments about this website to:

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright © 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

Best Topics: ten-hut 2 dimensional creatures perler paper matterhorn guitar walmart adderall kidde false alarms rooster noise ordinance skinny tires drinking saline origin of zipperhead watergate scandal book admiral halsey song were all living in amerika rammstein rabies shot for humans cost steel post and beam construction how to cut your femoral artery does the irs accept scanned signatures sim theme park vs roller coaster tycoon is pure oxygen flammable what would happen if you breathe pure oxygen hair sticking out of panties what do baby spiders eat red ink on money if your cat had an answering machine over the counter distance glasses