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WATCH: EMS warns of dangers of viral drinking challenge

Participants say it's just harmless fun

They have been all over Facebook news feeds this week--videos of nearly naked teens and twenty-somethings, swilling beer in the snow.

The clips are part of the 24-hour challenge, a Canadian spin on a kind of online drinking game, "Neknomination" which has had traction in Australia and in Europe.

Friends "nominate" buddies to down a bottle of booze in an inventive way on a one-day deadline. "Pretty much anything that involves the Canadian cold and your underwear", laughs 19-year-old nominee Ryan Piech.

A Niagara Region man set up a 24-hour challenge facebook group last week and saw the number videos coming from both sides of the Canada-US border explode. There's a fundraising element for a local man suffering from Lyme disease, but participants were fuzzy on how that part works.

Piech fulfilled one challenge by shot-gunning a beer and tobogganing down a snowy hill in only a toque, boxers and boots. Other posters have strapped snowboards and sleds to moving cars, plunged into Lake Ontario or shovelled snow in their skivvies.

But that creativity can be risky.

Shamez Kassam, a superintendent with Toronto EMS calls the sort of behaviour shown in the videos "very dangerous", with consequences as serious as paralysis and death.

"That behaviour not only affects the person involved, but it also affects the family, it affects the responders. And...it's preventable", says Kassam.

The deaths of two Irish men have been pinned on Neknominations. Canadian participants say they're being careful about the feats they choose and to only chug one beer.

Kassam says it's impossible to know what happened before the record button was pressed on a challenge video, including how much booze was downed then. He says people need to understand how alcohol can loosen inhibitions and lead to not-so-great decision-making.

But participants are blowing off the risk, calling it harmless fun.

A 19-year-old St. Catharines native who didn't want to be identified, says he loved the experience of digging a beer out of a snowdrift in front of his house dressed in his underwear, before plunking down in the snow to drink it.

"Just going out there and having something crazy to do that I could post online was just really exciting to me", he said.

Nominees say they aren't worried about their 24-hour challenge posts having an impact on future job hunts.

 

 

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  1. Me posted on 02/06/2014 10:12 PM
    Idiots !!!!
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