Mom Warns About Deadly New Social Media 'Trick' After Her Son Is Hospitalized

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For a kid, the Internet is a virtual playground full of funny photos, YouTube videos about their favorite toys, and even viral tricks and experiments they can easily try at home. But, not everything they find online is 100 percent kid-friendly, and one mom is sounding the alarm to other parents after her son was severely burned recreating a hand sanitizer stunt he saw in a video.


In a post on Facebook, Tashia Souther-Ditucci says her 8-year-old son, James, fell victim to a viral "fire bending" trick from YouTube. The trick involves pouring hand sanitizer into a bowl made of aluminum foil and lighting it on fire. For a few seconds after it's lit, you can actually "scoop up" the flames and make it look like your hand is on fire.

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According to, the trick works because the ingredients in hand sanitizer produce a "cool flame" that can be handled temporarily. The fire is still hot, though, and it can burn if it touches you for more than a few seconds. Unfortunately, James and his sibling misunderstood the science behind the trick.

"Just when I thought all the kids were sleeping, they decided to try [the trick]," Ditucci wrote on Facebook. "They poured sanitizer over the shirt that James was wearing and lit it on fire ... It went up in flames and burnt him EXTREMELY BAD [sic]."

James suffered second-degree burns on his chest, stomach, thighs, and hands -- in total, about 30 percent of his body is burned. Ditucci told WCVB, "I can't even imagine the pain that he goes through. The whole top layer of skin on his hands is gone."

It can't be easy for Ditucci to watch her son struggle or to share their harrowing ordeal with the world, but the mom says she's committed to warning other parents about the dangers of this challenge and of not closely monitoring what kids find online. "You don't see what happens after they stop that [hand sanitizer fire] video," Ditucci told WCVB. "My son is living proof of what can and will happen when you do things like that."

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Obviously we can't stand watch over our kids 24/7, but Ditucci's viral message is a good reminder that there are so many potential dangers online. We can never really take for granted that our kids won't put themselves in a bad situation just because they saw something that looked kind of cool.

A quick search for "hand sanitizer trick" on Google brings up 427,000 hits, and it's something I'd never even heard of until now. As parents, we can't block every blog and video showing kids how to do this dangerous stunt, but thanks to Ditucci's willingness to share her story, at least parents know to be on the lookout for not only this trick, but thousands of others like it that are probably already putting kids in harm's way.

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