It’s the middle of Summer, and many people are dealing with the high temperatures in any way they can. Air conditioning, ice, and electric fans are obvious things at the top of the list of “beat the heat” choices. But be careful about that last option: it’s a killer.
Or so it’s believed in South Korea.
Welcome to the world of fan deaths. They work this way:
- A person is in an enclosed room.
- They turn on an electric fan.
- They go to sleep in that room.
- They never wake up. Because the fan killed them.
This is a well-known myth in South Korea. By “myth”, I mean that it is commonly accepted by the scientific community to be false, but it is widely accepted by much of the populace as a proven truth.
The best American equivalent for it would be the “rice at a wedding” myth. (Coles Wild Bird Feed) Despite being an easily proven fact that uncooked rice is not in any way harmful to birds, and in fact is a food for many of them, the fear of ecological harm has led to some wedding parties tossing birdseed instead and even inspired the people of Chillicothe, Ohio to ban rice tossing in weddings.
The fan death belief is just that pervasive. And it is so commonly recited as fact, particularly during the summer months, that news sources feel obliged to cover it.
A man reportedly died on Monday morning after sleeping with an electric fan running.Korea Herald
The 59 years-old victim, only known by his surname Min, was found dead with the fan fixed directly at him.
The police revealed that although Min used to suffer from relatively high blood pressure, it was not serious enough to require medication. They are still investigating the cause of death.
In case you think that’s a single instance…
“When the steamy heat of summer arrives, dying from suffocation (or hypothermia) happens every year because of fans,” the government’s Korea Consumer Agency said. It estimates that about seven to 10 people a year perish by “fan death”.Reuters
South Korea’s biggest fan maker Shinil Industrial Co. issues warnings with their products telling customers to keep fans pointed away from humans at night. “This product may cause suffocation or hypothermia,” the warning reads.
So, consider this a warning. Don’t circulate your air too quickly, or it may blow the carbon dioxide back in your face and kill you…
…you know what? Don’t consider it a warning. Just keep yourself cool this summer, and be glad your appliances aren’t plotting to kill you.
Question of the night: what’s your favorite way to “beat the heat” in Summer?