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Can the 'Ice Bucket Challenge' Lead to Injury?

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

The "Ice Bucket Challenge" is the newest viral stunt to hit the Internet, but despite its altruistic goals, it can potentially do more harm than good.

Viral challenges like this one all have a similar formula: Someone challenges you via social media to perform a stunt, you record video of yourself doing the challenge, and then you challenge three more people to follow suit. As Chicago's WBBM-TV reports, the "Ice Bucket Challenge" involves dumping ice water over your head and donating either $10 or $100 to research for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. The ALS Association has garnered more than $9 million in "Ice Bucket Challenge" donations so far.

But can an "Ice Bucket Challenge" lead to a real injury?

Not the Most Dangerous Viral Challenge

To begin, the "Ice Bucket Challenge" is certainly not the most dangerous viral competition to hit the Internet in the last few months. Another viral challenge called the "Cold Water Challenge" is far more dangerous, prompting teens and reckless adults to dive into questionably deep bodies of water, with at least one death resulting.

And who can forget the "Cinnamon Challenge," which had teens losing consciousness and vomiting while eating large quantities of cinnamon? By comparison, the "Ice Bucket Challenge" isn't all that bad. All it really involves is dumping a bucket of ice water over a person's head, something football coaches have been subjected to for years now.

In fact, the only death we could find that was even somewhat related to the "Ice Bucket Challenge" was that of Corey Griffin, 27, a friend of the person who inspired the challenge. According to Boston's WHDH-TV, Griffin died in a diving accident after jumping from a building into a harbor; he was apparently celebrating how much money had been raised for the cause.

Some Words of Caution

Just because this viral challenge isn't as dangerous as others doesn't mean it can't lead to injury. Here are a few ways participants can potentially get hurt:

  • Cold shock response. Part of the challenge of the "Ice Bucket Challenge" is enduring a "cold shock response" from your body being immersed in cold water. Those with existing heart conditions may wish to avoid this challenge, as some believe this shock can cause cardiac arrest.
  • Hypothermia. You aren't likely to suffer hypothermia from a split-second exposure to cold water. However, try to dry off and warm up after the challenge, or you may leave yourself exposed to real injury.
  • Eye injury. It won't help fight ALS if you have to pay to deal with a scratched cornea from a chunk of ice.

And of course, you'll want to make sure the person you're dumping ice-cold water on has voluntarily agreed to participate, and is OK with having it recorded and shared online (if that's what you're planning to do). Bottom line: If you decide to do the "Ice Bucket Challenge," try to do it safely.

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