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Police warn against polar plunges - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Police warn against polar plunges

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

They are called “24-Hour Polar Plunge Challenges”-- friends daring other friends to jump into rivers and lakes in frigid temps. These are not sanctioned fundraisers with medical staff on standby. And police say a New Hampshire man has already died taking part in the craze.

Videos of these plunges are all over social media. And once people dive in, they dare three more friends to create their own videos. But Vermont State Police are warning that this craze has serious consequences.

Water temps hover around 40 degrees, but videos of people jumping into dangerously cold waters can be seen all over Facebook. It is all a part of a social media craze being called the “24-Hour Polar Plunge Challenge.”

"I got dared by a friend. I was kind of hoping it would happen because I have fun doing that kind of stuff. I did it three days in a row this weekend," said Luke Detwiler, who has done polar plunge challenges.

These plunges aren't for charity; participants say it's just for fun. The idea is you record the jump, upload it to social media, and then nominate three more friends to do the same.

"You have like 24 hours from the time that person nominates you to do it, until you have to do it. And when that person nominates it then they have to make a video and then… it's just like an endless cycle," said Champlain College freshman Shannon Alexander.

And the videos are surfacing all over the internet.

"Too many to count. It's like every other post is polar plunge, polar plunge, polar plunge... So it's definitely a really big thing," said University of Vermont sophomore Bethany Berger.

But this craze turned deadly in New Hampshire two weeks ago. Authorities say a man participating in a polar plunge challenge jumped into the Smith River in Bristol and drowned.

"The whole situation is red flags," said Sgt. Ray LeBlanc of the Vermont State Police scuba team.

LeBlanc says the bitter cold water can put someone into shock, cardiac arrest, and hypothermia.

"I think people need to use a little bit of common sense and realize that their life is a lot more fragile and more important than the two minutes of fame on Facebook or wherever else these videos are getting posted," LeBlanc said.

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