A service worker – we’ll call him Mike – goes to work inside a commercial refrigerator; it’s almost the end of his shift at the supermarket, but he needs to restock before the fresh products spoil. Each fridge has an emergency handle inside in case the door shuts, but it doesn’t work and Mike becomes locked inside. Nobody can hear him shouting as they busy themselves with evening plans. He wonders who will feed his cat.
After long term exposure – the refrigerator is anywhere between 0 to -20 °C – Mike starts to suffer from hypothermia, which occurs when heat loss is greater than heat production. Mild effects begin within around 30 minutes. Initially, he begins to shake vigorously as would be expected in a cold environment. But as his core temperature further drops, the shivering begins to discontinue before ceasing altogether. As he sits there waiting for help, he becomes disoriented and confused, unaware of the danger he is in. As time ticks by, he gradually becomes more tired, his breathing increasingly shallower as his blood pressure drops.
A few hours later he looks down at his hands and notices some of his fingers are a peculiar colour, realising frostbite has begun. Mike has been long forgotten by his colleagues, who are getting merry on their Friday night. The reduced flow of blood to his hands makes them excruciating to move, and with little insular clothing he knows there is nothing he can do but hope a neighbour will adopt his cat. One by one his fingers became pale and numb, his frozen tissue wooden to the touch. As he is about to give up all hope, the door swings open. His colleague walks in – of course, the night shift! – unaware of what he was about to find.
Drifting in and out of consciousness, Mike hears loud, unfamiliar noises around him. The environment is not the cold, industrial setting to which he has become accustomed, and a siren reassures him his cat most likely won’t starve.