The “Hot Water Challenge,” which kids say was inspired by YouTube videos, involves pouring boiling water on an unsuspecting friend — or, in one fatal instance, daring a friend to drink boiling water through a straw.

Earlier this month, an 11-year-old Jamoneisha Merritt of the Bronx was badly burned when friends poured boiling water on her face while she slept. In July, a 10-year-old Wesley Smith of North Carolina suffered severe burns after he and his step-brother attempted the challenge. And in late July, an 8-year-old Ki’ari Pope of Florida died several months after her cousin dared her to drink boiling water through a straw. Pope burned her mouth and throat, received a tracheotomy, and suffered enduring respiratory problems. The night she died, she told her family she couldn’t breathe, and fell unconscious shortly thereafter.

Some people doing the “hot water challenge” swallow the boiling water through a straw. The water can damage your esophagus and your windpipe.

“Most of us, our windpipe is the size of our pinky finger and so if you burn the windpipe area and it swells, then you may have severe difficulty breathing,” said Spencer.

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