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Firefighters in Massachusetts are warning dumb teenagers and adults pretending that they're still teenagers to not participate in a new TikTok challenge that could end up burning down the house you're in, according to CBS News.
Like most warnings about things young people do, it's hard to tell if it's a warning about an actual widespread threat or simply hysteria (see: Tide pods), but regardless you probably shouldn't be toying with electrical conductors around power outlets.
Let us explain.
A letter penned by Massachusetts Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey was addressed to fire departments and educators warning them about the "outlet challenge," which he deemed in a very fire marshal-ly way to be "an unsafe use of electricity and fire."
For those who've sworn off adding new social media apps, Ostroskey explains that this "challenge" sees teens sliding pennies behind a partially plugged in phone charger into an outlet for the purpose of producing sparks, damage to the electrical system, or even fires. Beyond fleeting social media praise, one wonders what the upside is since even in a best case scenario situation the result can be a fried outlet that's going to be hard to explain to whoever owns the place:
While you might think that that's a reference to a hypothetical pissed off homeowner (say, parents) the letter goes on to state that Massachusetts has had three instances reported, two of which have occurred in schools.
"This behavior is very dangerous and has potential to cause serious damage to property as well as serious injury to students," said a local Chief of Police, Michael E. Botieri, in a town (Plymouth, Massachusetts) in which an incident took place.
If almost burning a building down for a social media video isn't bad enough, Botieri also swore that whoever committed an offense would be "prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law." On that note, a pair of 15-year-old students who allegedly pulled this stunt at a school in Plymouth were charged with attempted arson and malicious damage to property under $1,200. If there's a positive it's that the superintendent for their district said that their "irresponsible act" led to "no injuries or significant damage."
However, at another Massachusetts high school (Westford High), the challenge reportedly caused a fire which led to an evacuation. That happened on Friday, with officials adding that the student who did it will also face charges.
As for the third incident, that took place at a private residence, with the mother sending a picture of her seared electrical outlet to a news agency.
Ostroskey's letter goes on to urge parents and educators to talk to teens about fire safety, which seems like an absurd task to have to sit down and do. They also said to be on the look out for burnt outlets.
Seems best to be proactive here.