Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Cold Water Challenge Warning

In Wisconsin, the water will still be cold for months. It takes all summer for the lakes to warm up to the point of being comfortable for swimming.

But air temperatures are on the rise. It is getting warmer, a little.

Nonetheless, warnings against taking the "cold water challenge" are making national news.

From AP:

A recent fad in which people challenge their friends to jump into freezing water to raise money for charity has prompted warnings across the nation, as an increasing number of divers are reporting broken bones, blown-out knees or worse.

The phenomenon, which began last month as a fundraiser for a 6-month-old cancer patient, has evolved as it spread. In some cases those who are challenged must pay $100 if they fail to take the plunge within 24 or 48 hours. In other cases, people jump and still donate to charity. In another variation, the challenge is a straightforward dare with no charity involved.

Although the challenges are well-intentioned, injuries have mounted in states including Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota. Officials with high schools and state agencies are now urging people to forgo a jump or at least take precautions.

A 16-year-old girl in Fond du Lac who recently jumped into Wisconsin's Lake Winnebago in a challenge from a friend shredded ligaments in her knee when she landed on razor-sharp shells. Elsewhere, officials at New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois, alerted parents to the practice after one student fractured an ankle jumping into Lake Michigan and another suffered a head injury that required stitches.

A number of Facebook pages are dedicated to the so-called Cold Water Challenge. People post videos in which they say who "nominated" them and to whom they're passing on the challenge. Then they jump into a lake or swimming pool, emerging wide-eyed and gasping for breath.

...Officials in Wisconsin and Minnesota urge those who take a plunge to never go alone, wear a life jacket and dry off quickly.

Despite problems, several charities have benefited from the jumps. The Steuben County Cancer Association in Angola, Indiana, raised about $1,500 since one local sheriff's office challenged another to take the plunge last month.
From the Chicago Tribune:
Teen "truth or dare" has taken on a digital twist on the North Shore, where a challenge spread through social media has prompted school officials to warn that the stunt could be dangerous.

In the fad, sometimes referred to as the "cold water challenge," students nominate someone to jump into Lake Michigan, with the resulting escapades being recorded by friends and posted online.

After some New Trier High School students were injured, district officials emailed parents warning them of the dangers of leaping from the rocky shoreline.

"There's been a fractured ankle and some stitches to the head, but luckily, no extremely serious injuries," said New Trier High School spokeswoman Nicole Dizon. "It might seem like harmless fun, but jumping in Lake Michigan can be very dangerous, especially when there are no lifeguards on duty."

Dizon said officials discovered the trend after teachers found students sharing videos of the lakefront antics on their phones. She said the high school's athletic trainers also noticed a few teens with injuries they didn't get from participating in sports.

Despite the popularity of charitable events like Chicago's Polar Plunge – which recently featured a run into the lake by New Trier alum Rahm Emanuel and "Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon -- North Shore authorities say unsupervised teenagers participating in similar stunts can be dangerous.
The warnings are silly.

If you're so stupid that you don't understand the danger of this activity, you have far bigger problems than a possible broken ankle or some stitches.

"Officials in Wisconsin and Minnesota urge those who take a plunge to never go alone, wear a life jacket and dry off quickly."

Good grief.

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