A 1-year-old, 4-year-old and 6-year-old were playing in their yard Sunday when they apparently climbed inside a freezer that adults had not yet brought inside their Live Oak home, the Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office said.
When they were found later, they were dead, having suffocated after becoming trapped inside when a hasp installed on the freezer latched behind them.
Safety expert Ron Hazelton showed Inside Edition just how deadly a chest freezer can be, pointing out that the lids are heavy, making it easy for people to become imprisoned inside.
Complicating matters is the fact that such freezers are also well insulated, so no sound can get out, according to Hazelton.
Inside Edition producer Alison Hall climbed inside a freezer to see what it feels like to be trapped inside.
"Help," she shouted as loud as she could. "Help!"
"I can barely hear you — you are very muffled," said Hazelton.
Hall also attempted to open the lid with the latch closed. "I can't lift it," she said. "I'm completely stuck in here."
The lesson? Make sure to always keep your freezer lid locked, and if you're throwing a freezer out, remove the lid by taking off the hinges.
Deaths of children who became trapped inside abandoned appliances, including refrigerators, were not uncommon in the U.S. until the passage of the Refrigerator Safety Act in 1956. The law required a change in the way refrigerator doors stay shut and led to the adoption of a magnetic mechanism over the then-common use of a latch.
Individual states added to their laws to cover additional appliances, including Florida, where it is illegal to abandon anything with an airtight lid that a child can get stuck in.