Dangerous 'Penny Challenge' is blasted by fire chiefs

Fire chiefs blast ‘dangerous’ internet game the ‘Penny Challenge’ amid fears the craze of touching exposed plug prongs with a coin could spark deadly blazes

  • The ‘Penny Challenge’ involves causing sparks with coins at electrical sockets
  • The dangerous challenge is sweeping video-sharing social media app TikTok 
  • Fire chief Michael Clusker has warned of the potentially deadly consequences 
  • In one instance in the USA, firefighters had to race to a school after attempting it

A fire chief has blasted the dangerous and potentially deadly ‘Penny Challenge’ that is sweeping social media.

The internet trend involves plugging a charger part-way into a wall and trying to create a spark by touching the exposed prongs with a coin.

Michael Clusker has warned that the electric shock from the challenge, which has been spreading on video sharing app TikTok, can kill participants.   

Mr Clusker, station manager in Carlisle, Cumbria, said: ‘The outcome from this is that someone will get seriously hurt.

‘Every year there are numbers of people killed by electrical shocks. It can kill you if it gets you right.

The internet game involves plugging a charger part-way into a wall and trying to create a spark by touching the exposed prongs with a coin (pictured: An outlet following the challenge) 

‘Anything that interferes with electrical equipment – unless you are a qualified electrician – is very dangerous.’

In one instance in the USA, firefighters had to race to a school when a teen dropped a penny on the prongs of an iPhone charger plugged into an outlet.

Mr Clusker said teens taking inspiration from social media need to be more responsible.

He added: ‘I do think social media is an issue, giving people ideas that are probably not ideal.

‘People should take responsibility for their own actions.

Firefighters have to warn people not to do a TikTok challenge that involves putting a penny on the exposed prongs of an electrical device in a plug outlet – because it’ll set their house on fire

In one instance in the USA, firefighters had to race to a school when a teen dropped a penny on the prongs of an iPhone charger plugged into an outlet (pictured: Penny fused to charger after students perform ‘penny challenge’ at a US high school)

‘In my 25 years in the job I have seen the consequences of people overstepping the mark when it comes to showing off.

‘We would encourage people not to mimic or copy some of the reckless stunts that are commonly viewed on social media.

‘When emergency services do attend these incidents, it does take up vital resources that should be available for other emergencies.

‘People take risks. Some in vehicles, driving recklessly.

‘You could get a similar outcome as someone who messes with a switch.’

Mr Clusker said dealing with electrics is even out of bounds for firefighters sometimes.

He added: ‘We do occasionally attend electrical-related fires. The majority are due to faulty equipment setting fire.

‘When we respond to calls involving faulty electrical equipment we will, if safe, isolate the apparatus.

‘If we are in any doubt, we call in the engineers.’

Two Massachusetts high school students, aged 15 and 16, were charged with ‘attempting to burn a public building’ in relation to damage caused by the challenge last month.   

On January 23, police were called to a US high school after reports that two students had caused damage to multiple outlets 

The prank involves placing a penny on the exposed prongs of a partially inserted charger

Police were called to Whitman-Hanson Regional High School in Massachusetts on January 23 after the two students who caused damage to multiple outlets were identified. 

‘This is not just a harmless prank that kids are doing,’ Hanson County police chief Michael Miksch told Boston 25 news. 

‘Causing an outlet to short circuit this way can cause serious injury and could potentially start a fire. Not to mention the damage it can do to a building’s electrical system, along with hundreds or thousands of dollars worth of damage. We are taking this issue seriously and anyone identified doing this will be charged criminally.’ 

The students can not be named but police say they are both male, aged 15 and 16. 

They have been charged with attempting to burn a public building and malicious destruction of property. 

School officials noticed that several electrical outlets around the school had short-circuited, concluding that the damage must have been caused by the challenge. 

No injuries were reported.  

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