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Necessity Of Ventilation Means Of Heating The Sick-room Relative Merits Of Open Fires Stoves And Furnaces

Source: Hydriatic Treatment Of Scarlet Fever In Its Different Forms

Next to its intrinsic value, our method gives the patient the great
advantage of enjoying _pure fresh air_, either in or out of bed, as it
keeps the skin and the whole system in such order as to resist the
effects of atmospheric influences better than under a weakening process.
And every body knows, or, at least, every body ought to know, that free
circulation of fresh air is one of the most important means, in
contagious diseases, of preventing the malady from becoming malignant,
and of lessening the intensity of the contagion. Although the times are
passed, when patients in the heat of fever were almost roasted in their
beds, whilst a drink of cooling water was cruelly and stupidly denied
them; the temperature of the sick-room is, in general, still kept too
high, and not sufficient care is taken to renew the air as frequently, I
ought to say as constantly, as necessary for the benefit of the patient.
Usually there is no ventilation; very seldom a window is opened,
especially in the cold season, when epidemics of scarlatina are most
common, and commonly the room is crowded with friends of the patient,
who devour the good air, which belongs to him by right, and leave him
their exhalations to breathe instead. There is nothing better able to
destroy contagious poisons than oxygen and cold; and if we consider that
every human being absorbs every minute a volume of air larger than the
bulk of its own body, we must understand how necessary it is to keep
people away from the sick-room, who are not indispensably necessary to
the patient, and to provide for a constant supply of fresh air. But
whatever may be the arrangement for that purpose, the patient should not
be exposed to a draught. Stoves and fire-places are pretty good
ventilators for drawing off the bad air from the room; if you take care
not to have too much fire, and to allow a current of pure air to enter
at a corresponding place, the top of a window, or a ventilator in the
wall opposite the fire-place, there will always be pure air in your
sick-room. The air coming from furnaces, which unfortunately have become
so general, is good for nothing, especially when taken from the worst
place in the house, the cellar or basement. I consider the worst kind of
stoves better than the best kind of furnaces; only take care not to heat
the stove too much, or to exclude the outer air, which is indispensable
to supply the air drawn off by the stove for feeding the fire. The
difference between a furnace and a tight stove or fire-place is this:
The furnace takes the bad air from the basement or cellar, frequently
made still poorer through its passing over red hot iron, which absorbs
part of its oxygen, and fills the room with it. The room being filled
with poor air, none of the pure air outside will enter it, because there
is no vacuum. Thus the bad air introduced into the room, and the bad air
created by the persons in it, will be the only supply for the lungs of
the patients. But should the furnace take its air from outside the
house, as it is the case with some improved kinds, there would still be
no ventilation in the sick-room, except there be a fire-place beside the
register of the furnace. With the stove or fire-place it is different:
The stove continually draws off the lower strata, i. e. the worst part,
of the air to feed the fire, whilst pure air will rush in through every
crevice of the doors and windows to supply every cubic-inch of air
absorbed by the stove. Thus the air in the room is constantly renewed,
the bad air being carried off and good air being introduced. However,
the openings through which the pure air comes in, must be large enough
in proportion to allow a sufficient quantity of air to enter the room to
make fully up for the air absorbed by the stove; for, if not, the air
in the room will become thin and poor, and the patient will suffer from
want of oxygen. An open fire, from the necessity of its burning brighter
and larger to supply sufficient heat, a comparatively large part of
which goes off through the chimney, will require a greater supply of
air, and consequently larger ventilators or openings for the entrance of
the pure air from outside the room. In very cold weather, and in cold
climates in general, stoves are preferable to fire-places, the latter
producing a draught, and not being able to heat a room thoroughly and
equally, causing one side of the persons sitting near them to be almost
roasted by the radiant heat in front, whilst their backs are kept cold
by the air drawing from the openings in the doors and windows towards
the fire to supply the latter. In merely cool weather, and in moderately
cold climates, especially in damp places, I would prefer an open fire to
a stove. In cold climates stoves are decidedly preferable, especially
earthen ones, as they are used in Germany and Russia. Iron stoves must
never be heated too much, as the red hot iron will spoil the air of the
room, by absorbing the oxygen, as you can easily see by noticing the
sparks, which form themselves outside the stove in very hot places.

Next: Temperature Of The Sick-room

Previous: No Cutting Short Of The Process Of Scarlatina The Morbid Poison Must Be Drawn To The Skin As Soon As Possible

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