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Can People Get Stuck Inside of Shipping Containers?

31.10.2016 - Posted by Updated On 31.10.2016    

We're asked "I'm using a shipping container for storage; how can I prevent someone from being stuck inside of it?" more times than you'd think. The obvious answer is, "don't lock them in". To anyone familiar with the doors and locking mechanism on a shipping container this sounds like a silly question, but to the novice container user it is a genuine and serious concern. After some questioning as to why this would be a concern, it turns out that people are usually picturing something akin to a walk in freezer/death vault, minus the panic bar.

How Shipping Container Doors Work

Shipping container doors are very heavy, and not spring loaded to close automatically (unless heavily modified by the end user, but if this were to be done I'd think they're building a large very trap). The doors take some effort to pull open, and if you're inside they would take even more effort to pull open because there are no handles on the inside of the doors.

shipping container doors

How Shipping Container Locks Work

For arguments sake, let's assuming you've gotten inside the container and managed to close the doors. Panic sets in as fear that the doors have automatically locked. This isn't possible. Especially on a used container, the locking the doors can require more strength than opening them. There is no possible way that the doors would automatically lock. The handles must be lifted, twisted, and pushed down. On some older containers I've had to physically stand on the handle to make lock it closed.

shipping container locks

So A Panic Bar Won't Help?

Again, unless heavily modified a panic bar won't work on the inside of a shipping container. It would need to somehow lift the handles, twist them far enough to open the cams, and allow you to push one of the doors open. The cost to engineer and install something like this would be much more than the cost of the container itself.

Do I Need to Worry About Getting Locked Inside?

Unequivocally, there is no need to worry about the doors on a shipping container locking behind you. If this happens I suspect you have a much larger issue with an enemy that has it in for you; and if this is the case I would avoid shipping containers all together. Especially if you walk past one with the doors open and a large piece of chocolate cake sitting in the far end. is an online market place for new and used shipping containers. Our sellers provide shipping containers throughout the United States, North America, and rest of the world. Search the site for shipping containers in your area, or fill out the shipping container request for to have a dealer contact you regarding containers in your area. If you have general questions on where to get started you may contact our office directly.

shipping container inside

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