Archived Story

Editorial: Teens should avoid challenge

Published 6:19pm Saturday, May 17, 2014

A viral challenge for a good cause is now a cause for concern.

People across the country, including many in Austin, have taken part in the “cold water challenge” where people are nominated to jump into a body of water — such as East Side Lake in Austin — to raise money for charity. The plunges are filmed, shared on social media and then friends are urged to record their own videos. In other instances, people nominate friends after completing a jump and the friend must either jump or donate to a charity.

While we fully support well-organized charity events like Paint the Town Pink’s Plunging for Pink, the “cold water challenge” is quickly morphing from charity to a potentially dangerous stunt.

We’ve heard several Austin residents and teens are taking the plunge just for the fun of it, which is a cause for concern after 16-year-old Davis Colley drowned in Norwood Young America, Minn., when trying the challenge alone, according to several reports.

Outside of well-organized events like Plunging for Pink where firefighters and emergency officials are on hand to help ensure safety, such cold-water dives are not wise.

With several health organizations warning about the dangers, we urge parents and school officials to dissuade teens from taking part in these unorganized challenges.

Here are some of the dangers the St. Cloud Times wrote about in a May 13 editorial:

—Local water temperatures are in the mid-40s to mid-50s, well below the 70 degrees at which the body can adequately replace heat dissipated by cold water.

—Immersion in such frigid water immediately causes blood pressure, heart rate and adrenalin levels to skyrocket, potentially triggering cardiac arrest and even death. To say nothing of the intense pain and massive shivering, the body’s natural reactions to cold water.

—Immersion in cold water automatically causes you to gasp for air; if that is done underwater, it can spur panic and lead to drowning.

—Many lakes and rivers are at high levels, plus the water is murky. Both conditions can hide potential dangers such as rocks, debris and drop-offs, especially along riverbanks that already are overflowing.


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