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School and Emergency Officials Concerned About Polar Plunge Challenge

| May 6, 2014

PolarPlunge from WAGM-TV on Vimeo.

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Daring people to take a dip in frigid waters – that’s the latest social media challenge going on all over the state. There are videos on YouTube that show kids right here in the county taking the Polar Plunge. Something that has local law enforcement, emergency and school officials concerned.

“I’m just afraid that there’s going to be something that’s gonna go wrong quickly and we’ll find a student that’s been swept down the stream,” said Caribou High School principal Mark Jones.

According to the Caribou Police department it’s a huge trend that’s spreading among high school students. Before they take the plunge they nominate another student to participate in the challenge. Some run into the water – others are jumping off bridges. Caribou Fire Chief Scott Susi says those participating need to be aware of the serious dangers of jumping into an ice cold body of water especially with a current.

“You don’t know whats under the water if you cant see the bottom and you jump into water that you can’t see the bottom you don’t know whats down there if you get swept downstream you don’t know whats downstream and you can be held under water by limbs, trees…right now there’s even ice flowing the lakes haven’t given out yet and that can be flowing anytime,” said Chief Susi.

Susi says the definition of cold water is 70 degrees. right now the water temperature in Caribou is 44 — meaning a serious risk of hypothermic or cold water shock.

“When you put your foot in cold water and you get those three quick breaths, if you jump in the water, you take those, it’s an automatic response..if you’re under water and you do that its a potential for drowning,” said Chief Susi.

Susi says some even do the plunge after darkĀ - which is even more dangerous. There are of course numerous statewide fundraisers where people plunge into cold water – but Jones says those are different.

“Those are done in static bodies of water and they’re done as organized events where there are safety people there and the precautions have been taken,” said Jones.

Susi says they haven’t responded to any incidents yet, and he wants to keep it that way, for everyone’s sake.

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