Fan death


As long as I can remember, my mom’s been telling me that falling asleep in the same room as a running fan could make a person very ill, if not kill her. As backup she would always bring up the case of my oldest maternal uncle, who supposedly fell into a deadly fever after exposure to a running fan through the night. Or perhaps he was nearly swept out to sea. Whatever! The point is that I’ve had this phobia of electric fans following me my whole life, and my friends think I’m crazy for it. Fortunately, I don’t tell anyone that I still suffer panic attacks if I wake up in a room with a running fan. Or perhaps it’s cute instead of insane?

Why do I love Wikipedia? Because they have a whole article on “fan death,” confirming that I’m crazy. But not! And also, apparently, that most of this crazy is limited to Koreans. Well! If being able to enjoy kalbi and bibimbap are the perquisites of a life lived in fear of indoor comfort, so be it. Small price to pay!

Just so you know, this comes the closest to describing my irrational fear:

If the fan is put directly in front of the face of the sleeping person, it will suck all the air away, preventing one from breathing.
Sound ridiculous when it’s written out like that, doesn’t it? Although my favorite quote from the article is:

In summer, mainstream Korean news sources regularly report on cases of fan death, even if more likely causes (e.g. heart attack, gunshot, alcohol poisoning) are evident.

  • sjon

    Yes, gunshot. Still the fan's the cause, it sucks the bullet out of it's normal trjectory and directs it to it's victim ... ^__^

  • Patty

    I would venture to say death from the heat would be more likely than death from the fan. I'd risk it, just for some comfort!

  • O_o;;

    I...have never heard of this phenomenon until you just posted about it.

    ps - thank you so much for the invite! :)

  • You're definitely not crazy because crazy people don't ever question their sanity. I come from a very superstitious family culture too and it's difficult to get rid of deep-seated notions. Like you, they come from my mom :)

    p.s. Thanks for the invite!

  • thanks for the reassurance. and you're welcome!

    janjan, i don't understand it either! but these are people who think that fans will kill you, too, so there's a basic failure of context at work here, i think.

  • Maybe they think that they were fish in a previous life.

  • This is the part of the article I find most intriguing:

    When informed that the phenomenon is virtually unheard of outside of their country, some Koreans have gone as far as suggesting that their unique physiology renders them susceptible to fan death.

    Though also, it does seem like most of these stories come about from using a fan "in a sealed room." In a hot, humid summer, why on earth would anyone want to sleep in a closed bedroom? Hell no. Open all the windows and doors, turn on the fans, and let the air circulate through the house, that's the way to go.

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