Busting the Myths: The Superstitions and Science Behind Electric Fans

Busting the Myths: The Superstitions and Science Behind Electric Fans

Explore global superstitions and the intriguing South-Korean belief of fans causing harm in closed rooms. Delve into skeptics and believers alike as we debunk this captivating myth.

Topics of this article include:
  • Superstitions Around the World
  • Superstitions in South Korea
  • Scientific Tests Against Superstitions
  • Electric Fans, Heat, and Dehydration
  • Potential Negative Effects of Fans
  • Viewer Art Appreciation

Welcome to today’s exploration of an intriguing urban legend prevalent in one corner of the world – South Korea. This widespread belief revolves around the ordinary yet essential household appliance: fans. The superstition warns locals of the potential danger when sleeping in a sealed room with a fan in operation.

But what does this myth involve? And could there be more to it than meets the eye?


Unraveling the Superstition

Like any good urban legend, this one too has twisted versions and multiple stories attached. Some people believe that in a sealed room, the use of an electric fan causes the body temperature to drop, leading to hypothermia. Others warn against sleeping after a night of drinking which can cause the body temperature to fall dangerously low due to the airflow created by a fan.

But are these just fear-mongering tales? Or is there a grain of truth hidden in these superstitions?

Superstitions are like historical landmarks, unique to every culture and rife with tales that intrigue, fascinate, and sometimes confuse. It’s not about judging, it’s about understanding.

So, let’s delve into the popular myth and the scientific evidence that surrounds it.


Fan-tastic Fright

Typically, fans are harmless devices that keep us comfortable during seasons when sunshine morphs into a scorching monster. Is it plausible that they cool us down too much. Surprisingly, some reports suggest so.

In a conversation with Korea’s Junang Daily, Dr. Yeon Dong Su from Kwangdan University’s Medical School refuted the theories of carbon dioxide buildup and suffocation but lent credence to the concerns surrounding hypothermia. Dr. Yeon was quoted as saying:

> “Hypothermia does not only occur in the winter when it is cold, the symptoms can also take place if a person has been drinking and turns on a fan in a closed room. Most people wake up when they feel cold. But if you are drunk, you will not wake up even if your body temperature drops below 35 degrees Celsius, at which point you can die from hypothermia.”

This belief is so entrenched that warning labels and automatic shutoff timers are a common sight on electric fans in South Korea. The Korea Consumer Protection Board and Korea Consumer Agency have even reportedly advised against the use of electric fans, cautioning they can cause hypothermia and suffocation!


From Myth to Reality(ish)

Our probing into the facts behind this superstition brings us to various studies and factual evaluations by respected organizations such as the World Health Organization, the Environmental Protection Agency and Center for Disease Control in the US, the Ontario government in Canada, and the National Health Service in the UK. They have all released warnings about the use of fans in enclosed rooms.

Dr. Lawrence “Larry” Coxtine, with his experience as a climatologist who helped write EPA’s guidelines, posits that the direct airflow from fans can evaporate sweat and potentially result in increased dehydration.

Does this mean fans are harmful?

Perhaps not directly fatal, but it’s certainly enough to raise some brows. However, contradicting studies conducted in recent years hint towards the potential benefits of fan usage during extreme heat. Studies from University of Ottawa and the University of Sydney found that fans can prevent heat-related increase in heart rate and core temperature.


What about the Allergies and Grid Stress?

Adding to the heap of potential health concerns surrounding fans are allergies. Fans circulating the air around the room might amplify irritation for those prone to allergies and asthma due to spun-up dust and pollen. However, this inconvenience is far from being lethal.

Another indirect effect boils down to power usage during the summer months. The increased usage of air conditioners adds enormous strain to the power grid that could potentially lead to blackouts.

Residents are thus advised to use fans which consume one 10th of power compared to an air conditioner, alongside other power-saving measures such as keeping the blinds drawn when facing the sun and running appliances during the less-demanding early morning or late evening hours.


And The Verdict Is…

Will fans harm you?

Highly unlikely. However, if any concerns linger, a quick conversation with your doctor can put those fears to rest. So take a deep breath, grab a glass of water, keep yourself well-hydrated, and stay cool this summer!

We learn, we explore, we demystify. Until our next post, keep the curiosity alive and always stay chill!


Key Takeaways!

The author discusses different cultural superstitions, focusing on the South Korean belief that sleeping in a sealed room with a fan running can cause death, known as ‘Fan Death.’ Some theories include fans causing hypothermia or suffocation by creating a vortex of air, or converting oxygen to carbon dioxide. Although some Korean medical professionals support the hypothermia theory, others, including international academics, have refuted it. One experiment by Professor Chun Rim of Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, who monitored his daughter while she slept in a sealed room with a fan, found no ill-effects.

It is discussed that the myth may have been propagated by the government during the 1970s energy crisis to reduce power consumption. Media misrepresentation and correlation fallacies with death during hot summers, when fans would be in use, may also perpetuate the myth.

The possible negative health impacts of fans have been discussed internationally. The EPA and CDC have warned that in high temperatures, fans can dehydrate the body more quickly. A study by the University of Ottawa and the University of Sydney disagreed, finding that fans prevented heat-related elevations in heart rate and core temperature, although this was based on a small sample of healthy young people. Fans can also circulate allergens, causing problems for people with allergies and asthma.

Furthermore, excessive use of air conditioning and fans in hot weather can cause power blackouts due to increased demand on the power grid. The use of fans is encouraged as they consume one-tenth of the electricity of air conditioners. The discussion concludes by advising people to stay well-hydrated, take cool showers, and keep blinds closed when the sun is out to cope with the summer heat.

Resource: https://www.bionity.com/en/encyclopedia/Fan_death.html