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Roanoke Fire Department urges people not to try viral ‘outlet challenge’

Challenge involves using coin to create spark from electrical outlet

ROANOKE, Va. – In less than a second, a penny drops onto the prongs of a phone charger plugged into a wall outlet, creating a large electrical spark.

“Most of the time, people are taking an iPhone cord. You can use other things, but what matters is this, the plug into the wall," Roanoke Fire and EMS community outreach coordinator Kristen Purdue said, demonstrating how the “outlet challenge” works. "People will plug it into the wall like this and not fully put it in. So, you can see here the prongs are still exposed, then they will take a coin and drop it in there.”

With videos of the outlet challenge and photos of the damage it causes circulating on social media, the Roanoke Fire Department is trying to put a stop to it all.

“The shock can damage electrical within the house, it can start fires, it can injure yourself; cause burns on your hands, different things like that,” Purdue explained.

The shock is enough to create second-degree burns, which can take weeks to heal and can even lead to infections.

Adding insult to injury, you could be charged if you perform the challenge, especially in a public building like a school.

“There are variations of what you could be charged for, but because you’re fully aware of what you’re going to be doing by dropping this penny into the outlet, you could most definitely be charged," said Purdue.

That’s a step the Roanoke Fire Department is hoping to avoid by raising awareness.