Kids can do some pretty stupid things to keep themselves entertained. For example, my brother and I used to burn paper with matches and a can of WD-40 after we learned those two items combined make an impromptu torch thanks to the pressurized aerosol in the WD-40 can. That is, and I cannot stress this enough, a dumb, dumb, DUMB idea that you should NEVER do because the flame can trace back up to the can causing it to explode in your hand. We were young, stupid, and in hindsight, extremely lucky. Thankfully that was before social media so we couldn't shoot a video for the world to see and try to mimic. It was a simpler time. Obviously that's not the case in today's world. Case in point, the dangerous Outlet Challenge currently making its rounds on TikTok.

Here's how it works:

A person will take an iPhone charger plug and plug it into an outlet. Not all the way, just enough for the prongs to make a connection, leaving a little gap between the face of the plug and the outlet. Then, they'll take a penny and drop it into that gap. As soon as the penny makes contact with the prongs (which no have electricity running through them) it causes a spark because the copper and metal in the penny is a conductor of electricity. The problem is, it can also cause damage to the outlet, knock power out to other parts of the house, or even start a fire as noted in this story from NBC 10 in Providence, Massachusetts tweeted out by the Evansville Fire Department earlier this week.


I kind of get the fascination with it. It's basic science, and science can be pretty cool — in a controlled environment. One that is set up specifically for the experiment you're conducting. A random outlet in your house is not that environment. If you're seeing this for the first time, make sure you talk to your kids about the dangers of this "challenge," and that just because they saw someone else do it online, doesn't make it cool. Then ask them if everyone else jumped off a cliff, would they jump too? Did I just turn into my mom?

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[Source: NBC 10 / Evansville Fire Department on Twitter]