'Outlet challenge' could cause fire or serious injury, fire investigators warn

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Wednesday, January 22, 2020
'Outlet challenge' could cause fire, serious injury
Fire officials are warning parents and children about a new viral challenge.

BOSTON -- A top fire official is warning parents and children about a new viral challenge.

The so-called "outlet challenge" involves partially plugging a phone charger into an outlet and then touching a penny to the exposed prongs, according to Massachusetts State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey.

Obviously, that is unsafe -- potentially causing a spark that could lead to a fire.

"It doesn't take much to be electrocuted, fatally electrocuted just by an outlet in a wall socket," Plymouth, Massachusetts, Fire Chief Ed Bradley said to WBZ.

Bradley's department was called to a local high school Tuesday to investigate a scorched and burned wall outlet. Turns out, two students participating in the outlet challenge were to blame.

It's at least the second public investigation in Massachusetts into outlet challenge fires.

"The electricity propels the charger and the coin--now the coin is molten metal at this point--outwards. It could easily get you in the face, get you in the eye. It could cause blindness and it could cause your clothing to catch on fire," Bradley said. "The other issue can be that you do damage to some electrical wiring behind the wall and a fire could be undetected and burning in the walls, endangering everyone in the building."