Be advised Floridians: Don't leave your fridge in your yard

JoAnn Ryan

Floridians, in a quest to seek answers to your most pressing and important questions, I have conducted hard-hitting and thorough research, and am presenting the results here.

Believe me, I know what's weighing most directly on your mind in this regard: Can I leave my fridge in my yard? What about my washer, stove, dryer or other such appliances? What about the back alley of my apartment building downtown? Can I leave my fridge or other appliances there?

(Had to tie in relevance to this fantastic photo!)

As it turns out, the answer is a bit murky. Also, one would think this law was put in place because such things are trashy eye-sores, and they can be, but what the law actually says is that such appliances may be a menace to children's' health and safety.

First of all, there is this Florida law, § 823.08, Fla. Stat. (2022):

"Abandoned or discarded iceboxes, refrigerators, deep-freeze lockers, clothes washers, clothes dryers, or similar airtight units from which the doors have not been removed are declared to be an attractive nuisance to children and a menace to their health and safety when accessible to them whether or not such children are trespassers."

Beyond state law, there is also federal law in place. According to the Refrigerator Safety Act, you can have a fridge in your yard as long as it meets the following criteria:

"The regulation requires devices to allow household refrigerators to be opened from the inside while the household refrigerator is in its normal operating position. This is accomplished by applying an outwardly directed force to the inside of the door, or by rotating a knob, similar to a conventional doorknob, that meets certain activation force requirements."

Thankfully, cases involving children dying after getting trapped in a fridge are nearly non-existent these days. However, in the 1950s, before such laws like the ones above were put into place, reportedly this was indeed a problem:

"Statistics for the 18 months from January 1954 to June 1956 show that 54 children were known to have been trapped in household refrigerators, and that 39 of them died."

This was recorded as part of the Congressional Record: Proceedings and Debates of the 84th Congress. Source: Refrigerator death.

Now, did you notice a few interesting things? From verbiage in the state law, for instance, isn't it nice to know that you can leave a fridge in your yard as long as the doors are removed?

And from wording in the federal law, isn't it also nice to know that you can leave a fridge in your yard, doors and all, as long as the fridge has safety features in place so children may easily escape if they get shut inside?

Perfect! Problem solved?

Not so fast. Need to clear up a few things.

Keeping a fridge outside as part of an outdoor kitchen, or simply to have cold snacks and drinks at close hand? Do ensure you employ an outdoor refrigerator, as it can better withstand fluctuating temperatures. In Florida, it's best to keep the fridge in a dry shady place.

Own property up North and want to keep a fridge outside there, too? Other than taking precautions as to just how much you're spoiling yourself with petty indulgences, also take precaution as extreme cold can be a problem for any fridge or appliance left outdoors.

Now, what if the problem lies in you merely being a trashy person who wants to toss an old rusty fridge in the yard to get rid of it quick. Less energy and expense, right? Laziness rules! Or what if you live in one of those fancy buildings in downtown Orlando, and just want to hastily get rid of that fridge somewhere? Anywhere will do.

Be careful, illegal dumping and leaving trash around can have consequences, both criminal and possibly even civil. Aside from various legal troubles, in the case of keeping an old rusty fridge in your yard, you may attract the neighbors' wrath. And really, in Florida especially, who wants to do that? Enough craziness already going on, don't you think?

Be the solution, not the problem!

Do you have a fridge in your yard? Know someone who does?

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Orlando, FL
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