The Ice Bucket Challenge has captured the public’s imagination, raising nearly $100 million in its first month. The money will aid the effort to find a cure for motor neuron diseases like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).
Many slapstick mishaps have occurred during the challenges. Some of the incidents have been popular on You Tube. The Washington Post noted that they include videos of “people getting smacked in the head with buckets, people getting knocked over (and) people falling into bodies of water.”
However, two deaths and numerous injuries reportedly have occurred. Both of the fatalities entailed other factors. In one case, a man drowned in a quarry after taking part in a challenge. The other victim had a heart attack when he drank a large amount of whiskey following his challenge.
The Post, which called injuries resulting from the viral stunt a “troubling trend,” reported that four firefighters were hurt during an event in Kentucky. The men were using a ladder bucket to drop icy water on college students. The bucket came in contact with an electrical line, severely shocking two firefighters. In the ensuing scramble to help the victims, two other firefighters were injured.
A challenge participant in Spain required hospitalization after 400 gallons of water was dumped on him from a low-flying airplane. In Ireland, a woman knocked herself unconscious when she ran into a pole after being doused.
Some authorities have issued warnings about the danger of heart attacks. The Hong Kong Medical Association advised seniors, pregnant women and people with heart conditions to avoid the challenge. The shock of the cold water may cause cardiac arrhythmias. People taking antihistamines, antipsychotics and antibiotics also could be at risk.
Dr. Brian O’Neill of the Detroit Medical Center, speaking on a local CBS radio station, explained that the shock of the cold water causes the heart to beat more slowly. That can be a problem for people on blood-pressure medication and other drugs that reduce the heart rate. They might pass out, which could result in falling and hurting themselves.
The risk of a heart attack reportedly is greater when people hold their breath while being doused. They are advised to tuck their chins toward their chests, to keep their faces dry. When the entire body is submerged in cold water, the effects are intensified.
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