TikTok #OutletChallenge sparks safety warning from Halifax fire

Click to play video: 'TikTok ‘outlet challenge’ sparks fire safety concerns'
TikTok ‘outlet challenge’ sparks fire safety concerns
WATCH: The so-called #OutletChallenge consists of someone sliding a coin in between a phone charger that is loosely plugged into an outlet and then sharing the video to social media – Jan 29, 2020

A new social media trend that’s made its way to the East Coast has Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency (HRFE) urging caution.

The so-called #OutletChallenge, which originated on TikTok, calls for users to slide a penny in between a loosely plugged-in phone charger and an electrical outlet, causing large sparks of electricity. Videos of the sparks are then posted online.

Matt Covey, HRFE fire prevention division chief, says he was in disbelief when he first heard of the challenge.

“At first, I wasn’t sure if it was real, but then I saw some instances where people actually have tried it. There are videos out there,” said Covey.

READ MORE: #PennyChallenge — What parents need to know about the dangerous TikTok trend

The people trying the challenge are typically teenagers. Covey says. HRFE received seven reports from a Fall River school of singed outlets as a direct result of the challenge.

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“We know kids are curious about fire … kids are curious about electricity, so I don’t think it’s surprising. But we want them to know how dangerous it is,” Covey said.

Matt Covey, fire prevention division chief for Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency, calls the #OutletChallenge “dangerous.” Graeme Benjamin/Global News

Covey says there are some pretty serious consequences to this type of challenge, including the risk of electrocution or starting a large fire.

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“You could set yourself on fire, you could set the building on fire and you can also damage things within the building,” he said. “You’re damaging the electrical outlet. You could be damaging things in behind the wall where there’s wires or the electrical panel … so you could cause a whole bunch of hazards, some of them right away.

“It’s a scary thing to think about, but we’ve seen it all the time.”

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Click to play video: '12-year-old Michigan boy burned in ‘fire challenge’'
12-year-old Michigan boy burned in ‘fire challenge’

Videos of the #OutletChallenge have also been seen in Ontario, resulting in another town’s fire emergency services issuing a warning as well.

There have been no known injuries as a result of the challenge, but Covey says movements like these can often snowball.

“Video is so much more accessible now, through (TikTok) or through any app. So our concern is what’s going to be the next viral thing, whether it has to do with electricity or fire or something dangerous people are doing,” Covey said.

READ MORE: ‘Electricity is unforgiving’ — Warning issued over new TikTok power outlet challenge

In light of the #OutletChallenge, HRFE is issuing a challenge of its own.

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“Anyone who’s watching this at home, I challenge you to check your smoke alarms and practise your escape plan with your family,” Covey said.

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