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

Sources: 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

us 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.