The milk crate challenge, which first gained popularity on TikTok, is the latest so-called challenge to take the internet by storm. It sees participants attempt to climb up and back down a set of milk crates that have been stacked in the shape of a pyramid without toppling the crates or falling over.
In recent days, countless videos of people falling from the stack and injuring themselves have gone viral, spurring warnings from health officials.
Shawn Anthony, an orthopaedic surgeon at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York told the Washington Post that injuries from the challenge are comparable to high-speed skiing accidents.
“It’s perhaps even worse than falling from a ladder,” he said. “It’s very difficult to brace yourself from the falls I’ve seen in these videos. They’re putting their joints at an even higher risk for injury.”
Chad Cannon, an emergency services doctor at the University of Kansas Medical Center, told New Straits Times that the challenge could leave people paralysed.
“You’re at risk for...hitting your head and getting a head bleed,” he said, adding: “you land on the milk crate, you will break your back and be paralysed.”
As hospitals across the US struggle to manage Covid-19 patient levels – new admissions of confirmed cases are currently at their highest since the start of the pandemic in six states – health departments have asked people to think twice before taking part in the challenge.
“With COVID-19 hospitalizations rising around the country, please check with your local hospital to see if they have a bed available for you, before attempting the #milkcratechallenge,” the Baltimore City health department tweeted on Monday.
With COVID-19 hospitalizations rising around the country, please check with your local hospital to see if they have a bed available for you, before attempting the #milkcratechallenge. 🤕🏥 https://t.co/wsVliFp5bg
— B'more City Health (@BMore_Healthy) August 23, 2021
Separately, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also voiced its position on the challenge after comedian Conan O’Brien joked that he was waiting for its approval before taking part.
“Although we regulate milk, we can’t recommend you try that. Perhaps enjoy a nice glass of 2 per cent and return all those crates to the grocery store?” the FDA tweeted in response.
Although we regulate milk, we can't recommend you try that. Perhaps enjoy a nice glass of 2% and return all those crates to the grocery store?
— U.S. FDA (@US_FDA) August 23, 2021
On Wednesday, TikTok issued a statement condemning the milk crate challenge and announced that it will remove all videos of individuals attempting to take part in line with its community guidelines.
“TikTok prohibits content that promotes or glorifies dangerous acts, and we remove videos and redirect searches to our Community Guidelines to discourage such content. We encourage everyone to exercise caution in their behaviour whether online or off,” the statement read.
The app has also removed the hashtag #milkcratechallenge, with any searches now leading to a page with the statement: “This phrase may be associated with behaviour or content that violates our guidelines.
“Promoting a safe and positive experience is TikTok’s top priority.”