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2 weeks ago

It’s officially time for millennials to pass the “being dumb online” baton to the post-millennials. The emerging adult generation that came of age with the “Tide pod challenge” is upping their specious adult credentials by vacuum sealing themselves into plastic garbage bags, recording it, and uploading it to the web. But health officials are warning that doing so could have catastrophic consequences.

What’s the harm in doing the vacuum challenge?

The issue, experts warn, is what happens to your body when an impermeable product, like plastic, gets sucked to your skin and restricts oxygen from being pumped throughout the body despite there being enough blood flow, known as cerebral hypoxia.

Common causes of cerebral hypoxia are drowning, strangling, choking and suffocation, so when you see someone vacuum sealing themselves, what you’re really watching is someone — likely unknowingly — willingly depriving their body of much-needed oxygen. The symptoms that can come from just mild cerebral hypoxia caused by the “vacuum challenge” include inattentiveness, poor judgment, memory loss, and a decrease in motor coordination.

Another effect that could lead to injury is the fact that the vacuum seal makes it impossible to move one’s limbs and you often see the person fall over, unable to catch themselves or protect their head from hitting the floor…or worse, stuck in the plastic bag for hours waiting for rescue.

Sure, there are more dangerous activities kids could do — the ice bucket challenge that raised awareness for ALS saw plenty of people hurt — but risking injury just to be like everyone else reminds us what every generation’s parents advised against. I’m sure we can expect the kids taking the vacuum challenge to listen as much as we did.

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