Are Electric Fans Harmful During Heatwaves?

Electric fans are a common household item, used to increase air movement and help regulate interior temperatures. They can be movable (such as on a desk or floor) or fixed to the ceiling or in a window. Some are battery operated but larger ones may require a hard wire connection to the electrical power supply.

There is a wide range of opinions about whether electric fans are helpful or harmful during heatwaves. Public health guidance typically warns against their use, because of concerns about their potential to accelerate body heating, and the risks of illness and death.

The evidence on the benefits and harms of using electric fans during a heatwave is based mostly on retrospective observational studies, which are not designed to compare electric fans with no fans. This Cochrane review did not find any randomised trials that would allow the evaluation of this question.

The main parts of an electric fan are: the housing (which contains the motor, rotor and bearing assembly on inside and blades on outside) which is mounted on some kind of stand or downrod and is attached to a duct which leads the air out of the house. The motor converts electric energy into mechanical energy by means of magnetism and in this case the converted mechanical energy is consumed as rotary motion of the fan blades. It is important that the motor only uses the type of electricity that it is rated for, otherwise it could burn out or be unsafe to use. There is also an earth wire which is important in that it stops any conductive parts of the fan from becoming live in the event of malfunction. electric fans

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