Cold Water Challenge a fun activity with dangerous side

Did you see a video online of someone jumping into freezing water before learning that he or she dared you to repeat the act within 24 hours or you have to pay $100 to charity?

Good, harmless fun, right?

The Cold Water Challenge is something that’s caught the eye of just about everyone who spends time on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.Virtually everyone knows someone who’s taken the plunge; rules state once nominated, a person has 24 hours to complete the challenge and post in on the Internet. If the challenge is not completed, the unsuccessful nominee must pay a fee to charity.

Like a lot of what starts online, the CWC has murky origins. But since it hit the Upper Peninsula, high- and middle-school aged kids, even younger children and some parents have dunked their bodies under near-freezing water in local lakes and rivers, some of which were still partially covered in ice.

Problem is, some people have gotten hurt doing this, several seriously.

A 32-year-old downstate Sturgis resident dove into a lake to complete his challenge, but hit his head and ended up paralyzed from the waist down.

While this tragic case is one out of thousands of plunges that ended without incident, it underscores that there are dangers to contend with.

No matter the time of year, anyone jumping or diving into any body of water should be aware of what’s below the surface, how deep the water is and if there are any currents or other dangerous obstructions.

Being that the water this time of year is ice cold, there are other danger factors involved in the CWC. The low water temperature could cause shock, it could cause hypothermia, and the jumper could panic, leading to lack of mobility and potentially drowning.

While we understand that all the hoopla surrounding the CWC since it went viral online makes taking part in the plunge appealing to those with a daredevil streak, we ask that if you – or someone you know – decide to brave the frigid water, do so safely.

Don’t go alone. Enter the water slowly to let your body adjust to the temperature. Be sure there are no obstructions and don’t dive. Make sure you get in and out and warm up immediately.

Have a towel, blanket or robe and a dry change of clothes ready. Get something warm to drink and take every other precaution you would any time you go into the water.

Better yet, stay warm and donate to charity.