Questions & Answers

Health

I keep hearing about fan deaths. What is it?

There is an urban myth in Korea that people can die from leaving a fan running overnight in a closed room. Consequently, most fans manufactured in Korea come equipped with a timer switch to allow people to go to sleep with the fan on with the assurance that it will turn off after a set time.

Every summer there are reports in the media about people who have died during the night in a room where a fan was running. These reports persist despite scientific date that contradicts the belief and statements by medical experts and scientists that there is no such thing as 'fan death'.

Believers offer a number of reasons why having a fan running at night in a closed room is 'dangerous':
1.  an electric fan creates a vortex, which sucks the oxygen from the enclosed and sealed room and creates a partial vacuum inside. (Not supported by science - if the room is closed and sealed, where does the air go - and if it can go out, air can come in......)
2. an electric fan chops up all the oxygen particles in the air leaving none to breathe. (The question is why this would happen at night and not during the day).
3. a fan uses up the oxygen in the room and creates fatal levels of carbon dioxide. (Not possible, but even if it were, few rooms are so totally well-sealed that CO2 and other gases won't mix).
4. a fan put directly in front of the face of the sleeping person. (Even if true, the effect would never be enough to kill).  
5. fans contribute to hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature. (Fans don't bring temperature low enough enough for hypethermia).
6. if a fan blows directly on the body prevents the skin from breathing resulting in suffocation.

According to Dr. John Linton at Yonsei's Severance Hospital, "There are several things that could be causing the fan deaths, things like pulmonary embolisms, cerebrovascular accidents or arrhythmia. There is little scientific evidence to support that a fan alone can kill you if you are using it in a sealed room. Although it is a common belief among Koreans, there are other explainable reasons for why these deaths are happening."


K4E Editor: Korea4Expats.com tries to ensure that the information we provide is accurate and complete, so should you notice any errors or omissions in the content above please contact us at info@korea4expats.com.



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