by NFPA's Karen Berard-Reed
A dangerous activity known as the fire challenge is trending on social media outlets. This activity requires the participant to apply an accelerant such as nail polish remover or hand sanitizer to a body part and light it on fire. Not surprisingly, as the YouTube views rise, we are also seeing an increase in visits to burn centers around the country from teens who take on in this hazardous dare.
The solution to this problem is more complex than educating adolescents about the perils of fire and pain of burn injuries. Adults addressing the situation need to consider factors such as adolescent brain development, teens’ thinking processes related to risk and reward, and the impact of social media on teen decision making.
In the next week, we will be sharing a detailed lesson plan to assist fire and life safety educators who are partnering with parents and caretakers to reduce this risky behavior. In the meantime, take a look at our research-informed suggestions for adults who would like to take a step in the right direction.