Daily Briefing Blog

When the #ALSIceBucketChallenge fails


Clare Rizer, Daily Briefing

When the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge started popping up all over social media this summer, we wondered how it stacked up to other cold-water challenges. Namely, did it pose the same types of health risks as polar plunges?

The challenge has raised more than $100 million for ALS.

The answer was no: The much milder challenge posed little threat to heart health, according to a Johns Hopkins expert.

But that may not mean the challenge is safe in all of its iterations. A number of incidents across the globe remind us that even great ideas can occasionally go wrong.

Various Ice Bucket Challenge "fail" videos have made their way across social media platforms featuring clips of people getting knocked down, tripping over buckets, falling into bodies of water, and more. But more harmful missteps have also occurred.

For example, two Kentucky firefighters were injured while helping several college students complete the challenge after their ladder bucket got too close to a power line and they were electrocuted. Two additional officers were hurt while trying to help the injured firefighters.

An 18-year-old in Scotland died after jumping into a flooded quarry  as part of the Ice Bucket Challenge, according to bystanders. Meanwhile, a Belgian man was taken to an ICU in Spain after firefighters dumped nearly 400 gallons of water on him, likely as part of the challenge.

Another woman, Isabelle Roberts, dislocated her jaw while screaming during the challenge. Her mother Joanna noted, "You just don't expect anything bad to happen when you are doing something light hearted like that."

What hospital fundraisers can learn from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

For now, I suggest that challenge participants adhere to this warning on the Facebook page of the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association, which reminds us that the Ice Bucket Challenge is "not a competition" and that "anyone undertaking the challenge shouldn't put themselves at any risk. It's a simple challenge — if you're doing it, keep it simple and safe."


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