'Vacuum Challenge' is the bizarre new social media trend: but is it safe?

·Contributor, Yahoo Life UK
·4-min read
The vacuum challenge involves getting into a bin bag and sucking out the air with the vacuum attachment [Photo: Getty]
The vacuum challenge involves getting into a bin bag and sucking out the air with the vacuum attachment [Photo: Getty]

Scooch over cheese throwing challenge, the 'Vacuum Challenge' is the new off-beat trend currently taking over social media feeds.

But like many other bizarre viral challenges that have come before it, the craze comes with a parental warning.

The trend literally involves vacuum-sealing yourself into a bin bag.

Though it’s puzzling why anyone would actually want to try that out, turns out people are willingly placing themselves inside a large plastic bag, usually a bin bag, then get a second person to suck the air out of said bag with the hose attachment on a vacuum.

This creates a seal around the person's body and once the bag is airtight, whoever is inside tends to topple over.

A quick search of the #vacuumchallenge hashtag throws up countless videos of people testing it out, some of which have clocked up thousands of likes.

Though videos of the challenge actually started being posted several years ago, the trend has gathered pace of late thanks to the fact that viral challenges seem to be de rigeur in 2019.

READ MORE: As YouTube bans dangerous pranks, here are the challenges you shouldn't try at home

But while participants of the challenge appear to be enjoying the sensation of being vacuum-packed, and there are some lolz to be had watching them fall over, experts are concerned that the trend has the potential to be dangerous.

The main fear is that restricting the body in that way could risk something known as cerebral hypoxia.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke describes cerebral hypoxia as a condition in which there is a decrease of oxygen supply to the brain even though there is adequate blood flow.

“Drowning, strangling, choking, suffocation, cardiac arrest, head trauma, carbon monoxide poisoning, and complications of general anesthesia can create conditions that can lead to cerebral hypoxia,” the site explains.

Symptoms of mild cerebral hypoxia include inattentiveness, poor judgment, memory loss, and a decrease in motor coordination.

“Brain cells are extremely sensitive to oxygen deprivation and can begin to die within five minutes after oxygen supply has been cut off,” the site adds.

Then there’s the risk of injury due to the fact that once you’re vacuum-sealed inside it becomes near-on impossible to move your limbs, hence the toppling over.

Experts also seem concerned about how many of the videos feature parents conducting the challenge with their children.

Though most of the videos involve two or more participants, it goes without saying it wouldn’t be wise to try out the trend alone.

According to Latestly, one teenager who tested it out on his own was trapped inside the vacuumed garbage bag for two whole hours because he couldn’t move and had to wait until his parents came home to rescue him.

READ MORE: Could this latest social media trend be affecting your mental health?

It isn’t the first time a bizarre challenge has lit up the Internet.

Earlier this year the cheese throwing challenge took over social media feeds, and that followed the 48-hour challenge and the Bird-box challenge which both came with parental warnings.

And back in April another viral trend which sees teenagers dared to eat food with packaging or rind still was called out by doctors as “dangerous”.

The Snapchat trend – known as ‘Shell On’ – has so far encouraged children to consume unpeeled lemons, bite into carrots through the plastic bag or munch on cereal through the cardboard outer-layer.

But medical experts have warned that while consuming packaging shouldn’t kill you, digesting anything that isn’t food could have a detrimental long-term effect on your body.

Not all social media trends come with the ‘dangerous’ tag, however, earlier this year the microwave challenge, which saw people attempting to turn like a microwave turntable, took over TikTok feeds.

And the Matilda Challenge) fell into the more light-hearted category too.

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