Authorities around the U.S. are warning parents, teachers, and students about a dangerous new dare going viral on Tik Tok that has some students facing arson and vandalism charges.
The “outlet challenge” dares kids to create an electrical short behind a phone charger that’s partially plugged into an outlet by dropping a coin onto the charger’s exposed prongs. Kids film the resulting fireworks and post it to Tik Tok.
Aside from kicks, the point of most social media challenges is to gain as many likes and followers as possible. Many challenges are harmless, but occasionally dangerous and potentially destructive challenges like the outlet challenge go viral.
On Jan 21, firefighters in Plymouth, Massachusetts, found two scorched outlets with melted chargers and a penny fused to the prongs In Plymouth North High School. While there were no injuries or significant damages reported, the potential for shock and burn injuries, electrical system damage, and fire posed by the challenge is serious.
“It doesn’t take much to be electrocuted, fatally electrocuted just by an outlet in a wall socket,” said Chief Ed Bradley with the Plymouth, Massachusetts Fire Department, according to CNN.
“I don’t think students comprehend the reality that they can be electrocuted and killed, or start a fire,” Chief Bradley added. “Parents need to talk to their children and tell them if you see this stuff, don’t try to imitate it.”
Two North Plymouth high school students, both 15-year-old males, now face charges of attempted arson and malicious damage to property in connection with the incidents.
Similar incidents occurred in the Mass. towns of Westford and Holden last week. The Tik Tok challenge resulted in an electrical fire that set off the fire alarm at the Westford Academy school. The student who caused that fire is also facing charges of malicious damage to property and attempted arson.
While most of the reported incidents have occurred in Massachusetts, The National Fire Protection Association and firefighters across the U.S. have issued public warnings in efforts to stem the Tik Tok outlet challenge from gaining more momentum.