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Myth Buster

Do Fans Prevent Heat Stroke?

Myth: Avoid heat stroke by using an electric fan.

Facts: Feeling hot can be unpleasant, but heat stroke can be downright deadly. Heat stroke happens when the body becomes unable to cool itself down. In extreme cases, body temperature can spike as high as 106 degrees in a matter of minutes once heat stroke sets in, which can result in permanent brain damage, if not death itself. Groups who are at the highest risk of suffering heat stroke include young children and people over 65, as well as those overweight or already ill.

Although the breeze from an electric fan can feel lovely when it’s hot, it does not protect against heat stroke when the temperature exceeds 90 degrees with humidity greater than 35 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

“What you really want to do is get out of the heat,” says Andrew Adesman, M.D., chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Schneider Children’s Hospital. If you experience warning signs like red, hot skin that’s not sweating, dizziness, nausea, a throbbing headache or confusion, don’t hesitate to take precautions. “Get into an air-conditioned room. Drink some cool beverages,” Adesman says. “If heat stroke is the concern itself, then blowing hot air is not the solution.”

Beth Goulart is a journalist based in Austin, Texas.

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