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August 15, 2018

The 'Hot Water Challenge': The internet trend that has led to multiple hospitalizations and one death

Daily Briefing

    Hospitals across the country are treating burn patients who've consumed or had boiling water poured onto them as part of the so-called "Hot Water Challenge"—and one physician is urging people to stop, Harrison Cook reports for Becker's Hospital Review.

    The "challenge" gained popularity when it was depicted in an online video posted last year that showed a man pouring boiling water on himself and screaming for someone to spray him with a hose, according to Cook. Since then, a number of children and teenagers across the country have been sent to the hospital for mimicking the video, Cook writes.

    One of those people was 15-year-old Kyland Clark from Indiana. One day, Kyland and a friend looked up Hot Water Challenge videos on YouTube, and later that night, Kyland's friend poured boiling water on him, sending him to the hospital with second-degree burns on his face, back, and chest, Cook writes. "My skin just fell off my chest," Clark said. "And then I went and looked in the mirror and I had skin falling off … on my face."

    The "challenge" has also been linked to the death of eight-year-old Ki'ari Pope from Florida. Ki'ari's cousin dared her to drink boiling water through a straw. The stunt required Ki'ari to have a tracheotomy, and complications from that procedure led to her death last August.

    A doctor's plea: Don't try this

    Ed Bartkus, a physician who works at Indiana University Health, said there's been an increase in pediatric patients with burn injuries that stem from the "challenge."

    Bartkus warned people not to attempt the "challenge" and disputed the idea that people could try it without getting hurt. He noted that that boiling water can lead to permanent disfigurement from burns as well as death.

    Bartkus said, "I can guarantee" people will get hurt. He added, "If your friends are telling you to do this, they aren't good friends" (Cook, Becker's Hospital Review, 8/1).

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