Another month, another dangerous online challenge landing kids and teenagers in the hospital. Or at least that’s what it seems like, especially considering this recent story involving one Michigan preteen. Because now, a mom is warning parents about the “fire challenge” after her son suffered serious burns from participating in the frightening social media trend.
You’ve probably heard of the Tide pod challenge. Heck, you might even remember the ridiculous condom-snorting challenge and the completely unbelievable choking challenge. But are you familiar with the fire challenge? Apparently, kids are pouring small amounts of rubbing alcohol onto their bodies, lighting it on fire, and then filming what happens, according to HuffPost. Spoiler alert: They catch on fire. Ideally, though, they’re supposed to put out the flames quickly with water and no one is hurt.
Except, it didn’t quite pan out that way for 12-year-old Jason Cleary of Dearborn Heights, Michigan, who suffered second-degree burns while trying out the challenge with a few friends. Now his mom, Tabitha Cleary, is speaking out about the dangers of the fire challenge in hopes that no other parent or child has to go through what her family has experienced. “I just want everybody to know that these challenges, or whatever they’re watching on YouTube, is not worth your risking your life,” Cleary told CNN affiliate WDIV. “My son got burned second degree, and it could have been way worse.”
Jason was at a friend’s house on Saturday, Sept. 28 when they reportedly decided to try the social media challenge for themselves, according to CNN. The 12-year-old was allegedly sprayed with nail polish remover and then lit on fire, resulting in burns on his chin, chest, and stomach. Cleary told WDIV she heard her son screaming outside when a friend had brought him to the house on a bicycle after the incident. “I start to freak out,” she said, according to Complex. ‘Take him to the hospital, take him to the hospital.’ I’m crying. He’s crying.”
The Dearborn Heights Police Department did not immediately respond to Romper’s request for comment regarding the incident. A spokesperson for the department told WDIV that Child Protective Services were called to the house at which the fire challenge and subsequent injuries happened, People reported, and an investigation is in progress.
Unfortunately, the fire challenge isn’t exactly a new phenomenon. In fact, it’s been circulating online dating back to 2010, according to The University of Iowa’s Injury Prevention Research Center. Just last year, a 12-year-old girl was hospitalized with second- and third-degree burns after trying the fire challenge, TIME reported. Timiyah Landers “looked like a fireball,” her mom, Brandi Owens, told The Washington Post. “She was yelling, ‘Help me.’”
*Takes a deep breath* So as a parent, this is all pretty scary, right? You’d think it would be common sense not to douse yourself in a flammable liquid and then purposefully light it on fire. But these are kids, after all. Between peer pressure and wanting their 5 seconds of internet fame, sometimes they make bad decisions.
So even though you might think your kid wouldn’t try the fire challenge in a million years, it’s probably worth a talk. Because I’m pretty sure that Tabitha Cleary never would have thought something like this could happen to her son, Jason, either.
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