It seems like almost every week, a new weird challenge explodes on social media platforms, asking people to do anything from swallowing dry cinnamon to chomping down on those all-too-colorful Tide Pods. Remember the "ice bucket challenge," which asked social media users to pour ice cold water over their heads to raise money to support ALS research? Well, a slightly different version of the trend has recently emerged, except there's no philanthropical cause benefitting from these videos, and people are using boiling water instead of ice water. The The "hot water challenge" is a serious health threat, and it's definitely not worth trying.
In what is just the latest devastating story to arise from the dangerous “hot water challenge” trend, Indianapolis news station WXIN reports that a 15-year-old boy named Kyland Clark has been seriously burned. According to the New York Post, while Clark was sleeping, "his friend reportedly dumped boiling water on him, causing serious burns on his back, chest and face."
In a video interview Clark gave after the accident, he is covered in bandages. “My skin just fell off my chest, and then I looked in the mirror and I had skin falling off here and, on my face,” he told WXIN. According to the news station, another version of the challenge consists of drinking boiling water through a straw.
But participating in the "hot water challenge" in any capacity can have serious effects on your body, which are not easily treated.
This dangerous challenge almost always requires significant medical attention for those who come in contact with the scalding water (which, BTW is usually around 200 degrees Fahrenheit). Heartbreakingly, even immediate medical treatment is not always enough: According to Orlando news station WKMG-TV, while an 8-year-old girl who drank boiling water after watching some of the challenge videos on YouTube did receive an emergency surgery to repair her windpipe, the news outlet reports she died from severe health complications months later.
According to Stanford Children's Health, burns that arise from scalding liquids are often third-degree burns, which do not usually heal on their own. “Large, full thickness, third-degree burns heal slowly and poorly without medical attention," the hospital resource explains. "Because the epidermis and hair follicles are destroyed, new skin will not grow.” The medical attention that a burn of this caliber requires is not minimal, the organization says. Treatment can include things like surgical skin removal, IVs, and even skin grafts.
While it's not totally clear how or when the "hot water challenge" started, a user-submitted World Star Hip Hop video of the "prank" from 2014 gained a lot of traction on Reddit when it was first uploaded. In the disturbing clip, a young girl can be seen pouring a full pot of boiling water on her unsuspecting brother. The boy falls to the ground screaming, and she begins to scream, as well. The video then cuts to several weeks later, showing the boy's scarred back.
While this particular video doesn't suggest that viewers follow suit, and even includes a warning at the end that says, "Be mindful of INTERNET CHALLENGES... Someone could get severely hurt," the fact that the trend has resurfaced four years later shows that warnings aren't always enough to dissuade people from hopping on a viral trend. “[The challenge is] suggesting to people that they can try it and they won’t be hurt," Dr. Ed Bartkus, of Indiana University Health, told WXIN, "but they will be, I can guarantee it.”