We are all accustomed to our refrigerator doors having magnetic seals that allow them to shut tightly without any effort. However, it wasn’t always that way.
At some point, you’ve likely seen the old style fridges that had doors that actually latched shut. These worked great, but had one major problem – kids were climbing into the fridges and weren’t able to get back out. To make it even worse, the tight seal that the latch engaged kept the cold in and made it more difficult for any sound to pass through. This may sound like a non-issue; after all, how many kids would climb into a fridge?
The problem wasn’t typically with working units, rather kids playing around discarded ones would climb in and the door would shut behind them. Enough kids were suffocating in them that in August of 1956, the United States passed the Refrigerator Safety Act.
This act stated that all fridges had to open “easily from the inside”. Previously, California had taken steps to help by passing a law that made it illegal to dispose of a fridge where it could be accessed by a child and then added an amendment to require the removal of the door before discarding the unit.
Testing was even conducted with children to see how they would react and the amount of force that they could muster when trying to escape.
Of course, these old fridges are still around and are still a problem at times. But the Refrigerator Safety Act was a success; the deaths of children 0 to 9 caused by a fridge dropped by half from 1960 to 1981.
Something you can appreciate the next time you open your magnetically-doored fridge.