Candy making on the stove

“Squid Game” TikTok challenge reinforces risk of cooking burns

A recent TikTok challenge encouraging fans of the popular Netflix show “Squid Game” to make dalgona - a South Korean candy made from melted sugar - has resulted in serious burns among children. According to a recent FOX news article, these incidents prompted Sydney Children’s Hospital Network in Australia, where the burn incidents occurred, to post a warning about the risks of making the candy. Burns due to these candy-making activities have also been reported in the U.S. and U.K.

Like past viral video challenges (i.e., the TikTok clip showing how to place a coin in a receptacle outlet to generate a spark), people tend to overlook associated safety risks, in part because the videos don’t show potentially hazardous outcomes and consequences. This makes it incumbent on fire and life safety professionals to educate the public about the dangers these kinds of challenges present, helping people make more informed decisions about the prudence of participating in them.

In fact, these kinds of social media and pop culture trend can serve as powerful opportunities to address specific fire safety issues because audiences are captively engaged in following them.

When it comes to the current “Squid Game” challenge, the recipe for dalgona, which requires that sugar be heated to extremely high temperatures, presents a risk of burns for people of all ages. However, only adults should make this candy and must use extreme caution to minimize the likelihood of burns and cooking fires. For children who want to participate in the challenge, they should only do so with close adult supervision and assistance.

To help prevent burns while cooking hot liquids:

  • make sure pot and pan handles are turned inward so that they can’t be bumped into or knocked over
  • keep hot foods and liquids away from countertop edges
  • keep oven mitts nearby and use them when touching pot handles and covers
  • protect your feet by wearing shoes when cooking hot liquids
  • create a three-foot safety zone around the cooking area that young children and pets can’t enter while the cooking area is in use

If you experience a cooking burn:

  • Treat the burn immediately by running it under cool (not ice cold) water for at least three to five minutes
  • Get medical treatment if the burn occurs on the face, hand, foot, major joint, or genital area, and for burns that are larger than the size of a palm
  • Other warning signs of burns that require medical treatment include white, tight, leathery, painless or weepy wounds; swelling; a developing odor; and delayed healing

For more information on burn prevention and treatment, download and review the latest (2020) edition of the Educational Messages Advisory Committee’s (EMAC) Desk Reference, which includes updated messaging for both.

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Susan McKelvey
Communications Manager

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