Experts Warn Parents There’s Nothing Funny About Kids Doing the ‘Vacuum Challenge’

Vacuum challenge

A new Internet fad has finally gotten kids to help their parents take out the trash ... sort of. The #VacuumChallenge is the latest online craze that has parents vacuum-sealing their kids into garbage bags for major internet laughs, but experts want to warn parents about the serious risks of this "funny" viral trend, even if they aren't covering their kids' heads.

  • The trend seems simple enough but also pretty nuts: Parents are vacuum sealing their kids into garbage bags for fun.

    As many videos on Twitter show, all it takes is a garbage bag and a vacuum with a long hose to seal kids into the plastic bags. Typically the child's head is uncovered. 

    Once the vacuum hose is placed into the bag, all of the air is sucked out of it, which creates a tight seal around the child's body and often the child will laugh or get excited. More importantly, however, they aren't able to move their arms or legs once the seal is made.

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  • Not everyone is laughing. Experts warn that even if kids' heads aren't covered, the challenge still comes with serious risks, including cerebral hypoxia.

    As explained by Yahoo! News, experts fear that the Vacuum Challenge may lead to cerebral hypoxia, a condition that the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke describes as when there is a decrease of oxygen to the brain even though there is adequate blood flow. Some symptoms of the condition are mild, whereas if the brain is deprived of oxygen for too long it can cause "coma, seizures, and even brain death."

  • Some doctors are also worried about what could happen if a participant tries to seal the garbage bag over their own head.

    Speaking with WFTS, Dr. Daliah Wachs explained that disaster would strike if someone tries to seal the bag over their head. "It just takes someone not thinking and putting the bag over the head and you could asphyxiate," she said.

    Even if a participant doesn't block airflow, there are real risks if that person starts to get scared. "What you need to understand is panic," Wachs said. "If somebody feels like their face is covered and they start panicking and sometimes they stop breathing."

    That could be just as dangerous as a child placing a plastic garbage bag over their head. "What really frustrates me, not only as a doctor, but as a mother, these challenges aren't going away," she said.

  • Even if parents know better, experts are also seriously worried about children trying this when they're alone.

    According to Latestly, such a case happened to a teenager who got vacuum-sealed into a bag and couldn't move for two hours until his parents returned home to save him.

    Experts warn that there is also the risk that a child could topple over and get hurt without being able to move arms or legs to prevent injury.

    So although it might seem like a harmless trend, parents should take heed before giving this latest craze a try.

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