Who taught: Jake, Carol, Stan and Andrew
Fan Death (source: http://askakorean.blogspot.com)
Growing up in Korea, I have always been told from my parents, “Do not leave an electric fan run overnight. You could die.” Also, I swear I heard a few news reports, talking about possible deaths caused by an electric fan. Due to this, I have never doubted this so that every time I use an electric fan, I become very careful and always use a timer switch.
When I had dinner with my friends a few days ago, Jake asked me a question, “Hey Terry! So, do people die because of fans in Korea?” “Yes! In fact, my mother always told me to be careful with a fan every summer,” said I. Then, other friends started to ask me questions like, “Are you sure people would die because of fan?” I answered, “Yeah, that is what I heard and I am sure it is true.” They asked me again, “Why?” “I think I heard it is something to do with the lack of oxygen that can happen if a fan continuously running in a closed room,” said I.
While we are discussing this, Stan looked it up on Wikipedia using his iPhone and started to read what he found which I have never tried to look up. He said, “Fan death is an urban legend prevailing in South Korea in which an electric fan left running overnight in a closed room can cause the death of those inside.”
Here comes the funny thing which my friends really enjoyed!
As soon as I heard it, I said, “See! It is true. That is exactly what I heard.” Well, as I said it, my friends started to laugh. Do you know why?
Well, apparently, I did not know what ‘Urban Legend’ means. Thus, I thought Wikipedia describes a true story of the fan death. It did not take a long time for Andrew to ask me, “Terry! Do you know what urban legend is?”
Here is the definition for you!
A modern myth. A frightening untrue story in which the storyteller insists it is true, but has no evidence to back up.
Before I argue about whether the fan death is really a urban legend or not, I have my own theory about why the fan death became a big issue in Korea. I think Korean government tried to encourage media to talk about this to make people not turn on their fans overnight so that they can reduce overall electric power usage during summer. Back in 1980’s, Korea was still kind of poor in comparison to these days.
I have done a few researches about this fan death and found this blog post which includes a scientific theory to support the fan death.
Here is the science of how a fan could kill. Remember the conditions under which Fan Deaths happen – summer (=heat), enclosed room, fan directly on the body. An electric fan cools your body in two ways: by pushing cooler air onto your body, and by allowing your sweat to dry rapidly and take away heat in that process. But clearly, the fan does not generate the cool air on its own, unlike an air conditioner. And eventually — especially if you are a passed-out drunk who is already somewhat dehydrated from the alcohol — your body will run out of water to turn into sweat. So what happens when it is very hot, but the entire room is enclosed such that no cool air comes in from outside, and you have no more sweat to cool your body with? Basically, the entire room turns into a gigantic turbo oven. Turbo oven is a conventional oven that has a fan inside that continues to blow air onto the food. This oven is known to cook at lower temperature than a regular oven, yet cook more quickly. Similarly, in a heated room without an outside source of airflow, very hot air is constantly pushed directly to your body, which is a far more effective way of raising your body temperature rather than “baking” in hot air. If you get enough of this, you would die – of hyperthermia, or abnormally high body temperature. (Source: http://askakorean.blogspot.com/)
Would you still think the fan death is an urban legend? I think it is not.