It’s probably the most dangerous social media craze of recent years and one that has nothing to do with raising money for charity and everything to do with potentially causing serious injury or death.
And now, youngsters across Gloucestershire are being warned not to take part in so-called Fire Challenge which is becoming worryingly popular on line.
Videos of people pouring flammable liquid on their bodies and setting themselves on fire before diving in a bath or swimming pool have been uploaded to YouTube, as part of a so-called ‘Fire Challenge’ craze which is becoming popular online.
Last month, nine-year-old Tyler O’Connor and his brother Shaun, 11, from Churchdown, set themselves alight twice in one weekend. They were unharmed by the incidents, but parents Donna O’Connor and Anthony Mummery have warned that the craze could pose serious health risks.
Mr Mummery, 32 from Gloucester, said: “I just felt sick and worried when I heard what they have done. It could easily been a phone call saying that my sons are in hospital or that they’ve died. They have been punished more than I have ever punished them before. It was something I did when I was a kid until I realised how stupid it was. I was doing it with a group of mates and one of them burned his face and lost his eyebrows. It’s shocking that kids are able to watch videos like that. YouTube should do something and put parental guidance on these videos.”
John Pemberthy, secretary of the Gloucestershire branch of the National Union of Teachers, said schools have a role in educating children on crazes such as the Fire Challenge.
He said: “This happens outside of the classroom so there is a limit to what teachers can do. However, teachers can educate children about this through assemblies and tutorials.
“Just as peer pressure can influence children to do things, social media can be just as persuasive and an ever more damaging influence on vulnerable children.
“A lot of children can feel isolated, and teachers have to reassure and educate them.”
Stewart Edgar, chief fire officer at Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “What these videos don’t show are the consequences. Aerosols are extremely flammable and it’s highly likely that setting them on fire on your skin will cause serious burns which can leave a person scarred for the rest of their life.”