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Air-Conditioning–Modern Convenience or Instrument of Death?

by Laura on August 5th, 2013

It’s a valid question, in more ways than one.

Don’t worry, I haven’t seen one fall on someone’s head … yet. Photo credit Flicker

When I read Time commentator Eric Kleinenberg’s Air-Conditioning Will Be the End of Us, I had to laugh. The point of the article was to highlight just how much Americans rely on A/C, how much energy it eats up, and how bad it is for the environment. He writes

After all, despite our other green tendencies, most Americans still believe that  the wise way to use air conditioners is to crank them up, cooling down every  room in the house — or even better, relax in the cold blasts of a movie theater  or shopping mall, where someone else pays the bills.

(Kind of missing the point) Photo Credit Flicker

Here we have the opposite problem.

Although not technically promaja (the Deadly Draft), air-conditioning is considered a welcome–but somewhat suspect–modern convenience in Serbia. You see, technically (in reality?) air-conditioning is MOVING AIR.

Worse, it’s COLD, moving air, which in itself is inherently menacing.

A/C in Serbia is like the new, young and charming Catholic priest starting his service at the diocese.

Most of the time it’s all good, but there’s a chance of danger if parents are not super-watchful.

A/C might cool you off and even prevent heat-exhaustion, but it can cause … dum dum dum. Sickness and Death.

It’s true! It happened!

Last summer, in a news story that has since become urban legend, a couple with an infant drove from Sweden to Serbia (why not just fly with the baby, I do not know) in the middle of a heatwave. They used the air-conditioning, set on 71F/22C. Apparently when they removed the baby from the car and directly into the oven-like heat, the poor infant went into some type of cardiac arrest and sadly, died.

And so, even if you have air-conditioning, you cannot use it.

For the rest of that summer, whenever I got into a taxi with my two kids, the driver dutifully made a show of turning off the air-conditioning. I had to specifically request that we have A/C.

“Are you sure? What about the children?”

“Yes, please, they are very hot and sweaty.”

Shaking his head, he reluctantly turned the A/C back on.

I fear this man would be considered suicidal here. Photo credit Flicker


Perhaps during the day, but definitely NO air-conditioning at night

Especially around sleeping children.

Generally, apartments here do not have central air. Each room, and sometimes not even then, has its own unit, and they actually work pretty quickly. They can cool down a room to sleep-able levels in five-ten minutes. In my view, this is a fast, convenient aspect of homes in Serbia.

However, locals view it otherwise. I’ve learned that it can be very dangerous to leave the air-conditioning on in a room with a sleeping child. Why? Because if a child sweats when he sleeps (and he is very likely to do so, with or without A/C), and the parent is unable to wake the child and change his clothes quickly enough (because a child can never wear sweaty clothes) … Oohhhh, that is not going to be pretty.

I know one kid who begs his parents to let his sleep in only underpants–because he knows better than to ask for the A/C to be on at night.

No. way.

Sleeping with only underpants on! What if a breeze comes by! That’s a recipe for sickness!

Truly, no one in that house is getting a good night’s sleep … not the kid who’s being woken up two or three times a night to have his clothes changed, and definitely not the parents!

But hey, at least Serbia isn’t contributing to global warming nearly as much as the U.S. For that, we should all be thankful.


From → Expat Mommy

  1. I can't imagine living here in the deep south USA without air conditioning. The first summer we lived here, we couldn't afford it (that was back when a month's power bill cost $15), but by the second summer we had air conditioning, and have ever since then. I didn't grow up with air conditioning in California and don't remember many really unbearably hot days…but I've had a bunch of them here in Alabama. Give me air conditioning!

  2. Serbia is a lot like France…that said, things are slowly changing there, and AC units are popping up everywhere. And suddenly, AC doesn't seem that dangerous any more.

  3. I don't have AC. But I've never considered that I'm saving my life and the planet. I feel like a super hero now. And really, really hot at the same time.

  4. daniella permalink


  5. Margretrosey permalink

    Few weeks ago, University of Oklahoma published a report regarding the health problems caused by air conditioning system in car. Report says that, car dashboard and air fresheners emits Benzene which is a toxic substance causes for cancer. It also paves a way to cause anemia and other major diseases. So please take care on this and it is better to check your air conditioners regularly. And it is good to open the windows before you on air conditioners.

  6. steve permalink

    For the rest of that summer, whenever I got into a taxi with my two kids, the driver dutifully made a show of turning off the air-conditioning. I had to specifically request that we have A/C. air conditioning port st lucie

  7. Jhon permalink

    I know one kid who begs his parents to let his sleep in only underpants–because he knows better than to ask for the A/C to be on at night. Air Conditioning Service Jupiter

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  10. I do love the way you have presented this specific issue and it does indeed present me personally a lot of fodder for thought. On the other hand, because of just what I have experienced, I really hope as the commentary stack on that people today keep on point and not start on a soap box regarding some other news of the day. Still, thank you for this superb point and whilst I can not really agree with it in totality, I value the viewpoint.

  11. You have a pretty good argument in here! Like any energy consuming appliances, we are consciuosly aware that it does have a certain unwanted effect to our environment. I guess our very best take on this as we also need these appliances, is that we don't overuse it when we know we can do without it. If there are ways we can come up on how to cool our body temperature, then perhaps we can do that instead of cranking the AC up. Thanks for your sharing your thoughts!

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  14. Air filters play an important role in air quality as a wall block for fine particles that are loaded with viruses and others. The selection of filter basically depends on the purpose for which it is used.

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