A 44-year-old Thai man reportedly died of hypothermia after going to bed on a cold floor with three electric fans flowing air at him all through the night.
Sobthawee Boonkua, from Tambon Nai Muang, in Thailand’s Chaiyaphum province, had gone to look after his 86-year-old mother, at a relative’s house, and decided to spend the night. Fearing that he wouldn’t be able to get a good night’s sleep due to the heat in the poorly ventilated room, the 44-year-old decided to sleep on the floor and plug in no less than three electric fans to keep cool. Unfortunately, he didn’t take into consideration Chaiyaphum’s drastic drop in temperature at night, and the problems his body would have adjusting to it.
Sobthawee’s cold body was found last Friday morning, by a relative who immediately called an ambulance and the police. Lt. Colonel Thanasit Apiboonworaset of Muang Chaiyaphum police arrived at the scene at 8:30 am, along with a coroner. After examining the body and interrogating members of his family, the medical examiner concluded that the man had died of hypothermia, because his body couldn’t adjust to the sudden difference in temperature and had gone into shock.
The man’s brother, Saravuth Boonkua, told police that, to his knowledge, Sobthawee was in good physical shape and didn’t suffer from any serious medical conditions.
Originally reported by The Nation, on November 3rd, the news of Sobthawee Boonkua’s bizarre death has been doing the rounds online, and getting a host of reactions from commenters. Some expressed their disbelief that someone could die of hypothermia inside a house, in Thailand, while others confirmed that the differences in temperature between day and night are considerable in Chaiyaphum province and that the fans made the air even colder. And then there were those who just posted morbidly funny comments like “he died in front of his fans”.
As unlikely as Boonkua’s death may seem, it’s not the first time that sleeping with electric fans has been linked to death as a result of hypothermia. The Korea Herald reports that it is actually a popular myth in South Korea, where it is commonly referred to as “fan death”. Despite scientists repeatedly trying to debunk it and the lack of any evidence to support that fans could actually cause hypothermia, a lot of Koreans believe this theory and many prefer to bear the heat than sleep with an electric fan blowing at them.
Hypothermia is a potentially dangerous drop in body temperature, usually caused by prolonged exposure to cold temperatures. The risk of cold exposure increases during winter. In hypothermia, the body loses heat faster than it can produce.
Could the man have had an unidentified medical condition that made him susceptible to the drop in temperature?
Generally, babies, older persons that are ill and substance abusers are at risk of hypothermia.
What are the early signs of hypothermia?
- cold and pale skin
- slurred speech
- fast breathing
If their temperature drops to 32C or lower, they’ll usually stop shivering completely and may pass out.
What actions should be avoided?
Things to avoid
Some things can make hypothermia worse:
- Don’t put the person into a hot bath.
- Don’t massage their limbs.
- Don’t use heating lamps.
- Don’t give them alcohol to drink.
These actions can cause the heart to suddenly stop beating (cardiac arrest).
This is a sign that their condition is getting worse and emergency medical help is needed.
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