NOTE: I originally posted this blog about a year ago. Since it’s summertime again, this is relevant again. Keep cool, and read on! – Ken
I don’t need to tell you, but it’s been kinda hot lately. Average summertime weather, sure, but it’s hot to the point where going outside and doing anything active really feels like a chore (and at times is even discouraged by experts).
What do you do when it’s too hot to go out and do stuff?
Sitting in front of an air conditioner is a pretty good option. That’s one of the reasons I’m actually fairly stoked to be stuck in the Wolf studios on the sunny Saturdays we’ve had lately. The air conditioning is beautiful.
However, I can’t bring myself to buy an air conditioner for my house. I’m pretty lucky in that my house generally doesn’t get too hot in the summertime, so an air conditioner isn’t a necessity. I probably wouldn’t want to pay the hydro to operate one on a regular basis either.
On top of all this, I just love good old fashioned fans.
This is a fairly accurate depiction.
I’ve owned a number of memorable fans throughout my life. The classic crate fan is one of my favourite styles, and I’ve lucked out with finding a few old relics that have been both reliable and stylish. One of them came from Crestwood room A309, and was offered up to anyone who wanted it because it wasn’t needed anymore. I took it, and proceeded to carry it around from class to class to keep myself and anyone who was lucky enough to sit close to me nice and cool. Another, I paid $2 for at a yard sale years ago. That one still sits in my parents’ basement beside my drums to keep me cool whenever I get a chance to play.
However, the most memorable fan I’ve ever had is a good old fashioned oscillating deal which was lovingly dubbed Rodney Dangerfan.
The name makes sense; one could easily lose a hand trying to operate Rodney.
Rodney was pulled from the depths of my parents’ basement (where I would imagine more treasures like him are stored). The safety grille which would render him less dangerous is long-gone. In fact, I’m not convinced he ever even had one. He was a real utility player throughout his long life, keeping the air moving all throughout my house, and especially helping to prevent the smoke detector from going off whenever my roommate and I try to cook anything.
Sadly, Rodney is no longer with us. He met his demise one night as he tumbled from the couch, where I had placed him while I was gathering my things to go to bed. One of the fanblades broke off, and any attempt to turn the fan on now just causes wobbling to the point where it would knock itself over anyway. If you own a similar Super-brand fan and would be willing to donate or sell the fan blade to me, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
I often leave a fan pointing toward my bed when I sleep at night, to keep me cool. However, if I lived in South Korea and did this, I’d be risking my life.
It’s one of South Korea’s best-known urban legends; the idea that an electric fan left running overnight in a closed room can cause the death of the people inside. Fans sold in South Korea are equipped with a timer switch which turns them off after a set time, and users are urged to set the timers when going to sleep.
Sounds ridiculous, right? Well even the government is behind it.
In 2006, the Korea Consumer Protection Board, a South Korean government-funded public agency, issued a consumer safety alert warning that “asphyxiation from electric fans and air conditioners” was one of South Korea’s five most common seasonal summer accidents or injuries, accodring to data it collected.
A South Korean wall of death… Not to be confused with its American counterpart:
So how does a fan kill someone? And why does it only happen in a sealed room?
One theory suggest that the fans cause the temperature to drop in a room to the point where the occupants would experience hypothermia and in theory die from that. Another suggests that the fans convert oxygen into carbon dioxide, and reduce the amount of breathable air in the room. In 2005, 20 cases were reported of people dying from sleeping in a room with an air conditioner or fan. To avoid asphyxiation, it’s recommended that people set the fan’s timer, set it to oscillate, and keep doors open.
The theories on how fans kill don’t really stand up to logical or scientific explanation (though it doesn’t take an expert to realize that).
Scientists who have examined fan death cases have not suggested that the fan was the cause of death in certain cases, noting that most of the victims had pre-existing conditions which could have contributed to their deaths.
It has been noted that a fan does not actually reduce the temperature of a room. If anything, it slightly increases it due to the temperature created by the fan motor operating (though these slight changes are pretty insignificant).
Something tells me these would not sell too well in South Korea…
So why do South Koreans still hold this irrational, and slightly ridiculous fear?
In the summer, mainstream Korean press often reports stories of fan death. A typical example is this article from the July 4, 2011 edition of The Korea Herald.
“A man reportedly died on Monday morning after sleeping with an electric fan running. The 59 years-old victim, only known by his surname Min, was found dead with the fan fixed directly at him.”
This one at least suggests that there is no evidence to support the idea of Fan Death.
Still, there’s no explanation as to why this phenomenon has not been reported or even heard of outside of South Korea.
The origins of the superstition are a mystery, but since the first reports of Fan Death occurred in the 1970’s, one theory is that it was created as a way to reduce energy consumption by the South Korean population. This theory also suggests that the South Korean government supported the idea to reduce energy usage in a time of limited supplies.
Do you have any strange or irrational fears?