Boiling water challenge sends 8 people to hospital during polar vortex

Published: Sunday, February 10, 2019 @ 2:06 AM

The Dangers of the Boiling Water Challenge

Have you seen videos of people throwing boiling water into the air to watch it freeze instantly? It’s the latest viral challenge, and it’s sending people to the hospital.

>> What is a polar vortex?

Within the last few weeks, parts of the United States have been affected by the polar vortex, which occurs when circulating winds from the northern pole travel southward and cause below freezing temperatures.

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To test just how cold the weather has been, folks have been tossing boiling water into the sky to turn it into tiny ice crystals.

Eight people who took part in the challenge have been treated at the burn center of Chicago's Loyola University Medical Center, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

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The patients treated range in age from 3 to 53, and they’ve had injuries to their feet, arms, hands and face with varying degrees of burns.

A burn can penetrate all layers of the skin, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It can leave it charred with white, black or brown patches. Symptoms of severe cases can include persistent pain and redness, swelling, fever, blisters that are larger than two inches or that ooze. Doctors may treat burns with bandages, antibiotics or even tetanus shots. 

The stunt hasn’t only affected those throwing the water. Witnesses of it have been affected, too. The water can blow back and burn those watching if a gust of wind suddenly comes. 

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“We strongly warn people to not perform the boiling water challenge,” Loyola burn surgeon Arthur Sanford told the Chicago Sun-Times. “There is no safe way to do it.”

What You Need to Know: Polar Vortex