NFPA Urges Teens Not to Participate in Popular Social Media Challenge

The #outletchallenge on the TikTok app presents significant electrical hazards


The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is urging the public not to imitate a dangerous viral video from the social media app TikTok.

According to news reports, high school students in Massachusetts have been participating in the dangerous challenge. Both Massachusetts fire officials and the NFPA are warning the public about the dangers of this activity.

"Electricity is ubiquitous in our lives, so much so that we often take for granted its power and potential for danger," Lorraine Carli, vice president of Outreach and Advocacy for NFPA, said. "This video challenge reinforces that electricity can inflict serious harm if used improperly."

This dangerous activity is called the #outletchallenge, and the original video shows how to partially insert the plug of a cellphone charger into an outlet and slide a penny down the wall onto the exposed prongs. This "challenge" causes sparks and damage to the electrical system, and in some cases, fires, injuries, and even electrocution.

"Our hope is to communicate the true dangers of this activity so that we can prevent anyone else from being harmed by it," Carli said.

NFPA offers resources to help protect teens from trends that have emerged on social media in recent years, helping them to identify risky behaviors and make safer decisions. These resources are mainly designed for parents, caretakers, and fire departments, but NFPA says they can help anyone to have an open dialogue with teenagers and discourage dangerous behavior.

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