Child Hospitalized with Severe Burns After Performing Experiment Seen on TikTok: Firefighters

The experiment, which firefighters say the child saw on TikTok, uses a water jug and flammable vapors to create a loud "whoosh" sound

TikTok. Photo: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty

A child from Connecticut was hospitalized after they suffered severe burns in an experiment authorities say has been popularized on social media.

East Haven firefighters responded to a call around 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday night after a child was hurt performing an experiment they saw on TikTok, the East Haven Fire Department said in a statement sent to PEOPLE.

The child, who was not identified, was taken to Yale Children's Hospital in New Haven, and later transferred to the Bridgeport Hospital Burn Center.

According to the department, the child was performing the "whoosh bottle experiment," a demonstration that has typically been used to show the combustion of flammable vapors in a five-gallon water jug. The vapor inside the jug is ignited using a match in an attempt to make a loud "whoosh" sound.

In a statement to PEOPLE, TikTok said they would remove videos of experiments that do not show safety precautions.

"We understand that this school science experiment can be done safely with proper precautions, but videos without visible safety measures will be removed from our platform," a spokesperson said. "We also work to add caution labels to videos performed in a controlled setting, though they are ineligible for recommendation into people's For You feeds."

There are dozens of videos of the demonstration, some more than 10 years old, searchable online. Most feature a scientist or teacher performing the experiment while wearing safety gear.

In a statement, Fire Chief Matt Marcarelli warned social media users against trying the experiment at home.

"This could easily have led to a fatality as well as a major fire in the house," Marcarelli said. "Alcohol is a volatile flammable liquid and can act as an accelerant."

According to the Children's Safety Network, nearly 300 children and adolescents die from fire or burn injuries each year, and over 100,000 are sent to hospitals or emergency room departments.

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East Haven Fire Marshal Charles Miller said he is reaching out to local schools to raise awareness around the experiment.

"Take a few minutes to talk to your children about the dangers of playing with ignitable liquids and matches and monitor what they are watching," Miller said in a statement sent to PEOPLE. "This experiment when done incorrectly can cause severe burns that can permanently scar an individual."

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