Local kids suffering severe burns while playing 'Ice and Salt Challenge'

By: Jason Tarr Email
By: Jason Tarr Email

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SALINA, Kan. -- Four teenagers in Salina were hanging out at a friend's house Saturday night when they decided to take on the Ice and Salt Challenge.

To play, they would sprinkle salt on their arms and then put ice cubes on top. Whoever could bear the intense burning sensation the longest without removing the ice cube would be the winner.

In this case, the winner, who left the ice on for several minutes, wound up in the ER.

"His arm was red and beginning to blister," said his mother, who did not want herself or her son to be identified. "I had never heard of the Ice and Salt Challenge."

That's why she and others are speaking out in hopes of educating parents about the resurgent trend.

"This is stuff that can be found right in your house. It's totally legal. It's not a drug. It's not weapons. It's nothing you would suspect. But it can be really dangerous," said Manhattan's Amy Barnes, a friend of the Salina family.

Barnes says the Challenge is not new. It now just goes by a different name.

"I'm 33 and I did it when I was back in junior high school. At the time, we probably just thought we were cool and showing off," Barnes said. "It was just stupid. I can remember myself getting some pretty big blisters."

The blisters are from the reaction caused by the mixture of salt and ice. Medical professionals say the salt lowers the freezing point of water and pulls heat from the tissue around where the mixture is placed.

They liken it to a frostbite injury with varying levels of severity. They say it can lead to permanent tissue damage and skin infections.

"I would definitely say (to parents) to keep an eye out because it's definitely something that is coming back," Barnes said.

In fact, a quick check of YouTube showed hundreds of videos of kids taking the Ice and Salt challenge. Many of the videos show severe reactions.

Barnes and the Salina mother say they hope that by educating parents, they can help to prevent something similar from happening to other kids.

"I want to help other parents who don't know so they can keep an eye out," the mother said.


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