Dangerous Dares: The Fire Challenge
We’ve written about the salt and ice challenge as part of our ongoing dangerous dare series, but a new dare that is currently popular among kids and teens makes that one seem tame by comparison. The “fire challenge” (or “burn challenge” as some call it) is just what it sounds like: adolescents dousing their bare skin with rubbing alcohol, acetone, or other flammable liquids then lighting themselves on fire. Often the person is in the shower so they can attempt to extinguish the flames quickly, but few participants come away unscathed.
WHY WOULD TEENS DECIDE TO LIGHT THEMSELVES ON FIRE?
As with all of the other dares we’ve written about, the fire challenge is usually filmed and uploaded onto social media sites such as YouTube, Twitter or Facebook. It’s often through watching these videos that kids get the idea to try the dare in the first place.
So what’s the payoff? Although it may sound unbelievable, in a world in which social media reigns supreme (especially in the eyes of teenagers) the only motivation required is the acquisition of “likes” and “views” on their posted video, or the possibility that their video will go viral – today’s version of 15 minutes of fame. Unfortunately, most of the videos posted don’t show the aftermath of the stunt, though more victims are speaking out about the damage and pain the fire challenge can cause. In support, Facebook has taken down all fire challenge videos, though these videos can still be seen on YouTube and Twitter.
THE DANGER OF THE FIRE CHALLENGE
Over the course of the summer, cases of injured teens and kids have been occurring across the nation from California to Florida.
An 11-year-old from Florida, Derrick Robinson, was hospitalized with 2nd and 3rd degree burns. His recovery includes going to a nearby burn center every week just to have his wound re-dressed.
Fernando Valencia, a 16-year-old from California, who also received 2nd and 3rd degree burns (to his neck and waist), may require skin grafting. Valencia is among those speaking out against the dare.
A third case involved a 12-year-old girl, Daisey Schumer of St. Louis, Missouri. After Daisey and some friends learned about the fire challenge by watching several videos online another person they were with poured perfume on Daisy and lit her on fire despite her pleas to stop. Daisy was also hospitalized with severe burns on her back.
HOW CAN YOU PREVENT YOUR KID FROM ATTEMPTING THE FIRE CHALLENGE?
The most important thing you can do as a parent is to talk to your kids about the dangers of the fire or burn challenge. Don’t assume that just because they are a “good kid” or a smart kid that they will not attempt this dangerous dare. It’s precisely the “good” kids who are not experimenting with drugs that turn to other methods in order to gain popularity or the “cool” factor.
Veteran fire investigator, Michael Roarty stressed the risk involved in the dare to WDIV-TV in Michigan. “When you pour an ignitable liquid accelerant on your body, and the key word is accelerant, that accelerant is there to accelerate the spread of the fire,” he said. “When you light these vapors on fire, the surface of the vapors is somewhere about 800 degrees Fahrenheit. Your skin begins to burn very badly at like 135 degrees Fahrenheit,” he explained.
In the days of the internet, fads like the burn challenge spread like wildfire. As a parent, it can be challenging to stay ever vigilant on what the latest trends are. When you speak with your kids, don’t just address one single dare, but talk to them about the dangers of dares in general, peer pressure, and doing things that they know are not safe. This way you can hope to better prepare them for whatever new and dangerous fads lie down the road.