Fire service warns against “irresponsible” online challenge after spike in teenagers rescued from swings

Photograph: Tyne and Wear Fire and RescuePhotograph: Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue
Photograph: Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue
The social media viral challenge had seen people attempting to force themselves into toddler swing sets.

Firefighters have called on communities to not waste their time after a spike in reports of people getting stuck in children’s swings.

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) say they have responded to 35 incidents of people being stuck in swings in the seven months since April 2023.

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That is already more than double the 14 incidents saw in the entire 12 months dating back to March 2022.

In recent years, fire and rescue services across the UK have reported similar incidents with concerns raised about a TikTok challenge.

The social media viral challenge had seen older children, and young adults, attempting to force themselves into toddler swing sets.

They are then filmed trying to get out of the swing but, on the occasions they are unable to, they are left with no choice but to call the fire service.

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It is believed the craze first emerged in 2021 and during that year TWFRS recorded 29 rescues from toddler swing sets.

That number rose to 35 across the 2023-24 year so far in the North East.

But fire officers in the region are concerned that the trend has re-emerged and say it could divert resources away from genuine emergencies.

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Station Manager Jonathan Ramanayake, of TWFRS’s Prevention and Education Department, said: “These kind of rescues are no laughing matter.

“Young people may find it funny that the fire service is responding to these type of incidents but it is a serious waste of emergency service resource.

“If our crews are already in attendance at an incident of this nature, and a genuine life-at-risk emergency occurs, their response will be delayed.

“In a fire or rescue every second counts and we would ask these young people if 30 seconds of fame on social media is worth a life?

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“Would they be comfortable knowing the fire service was delayed in getting to a fire at their home because their friend was stuck in a swing set?

“Not only does it hinder our response, but it robs a community of a swing set if we need to remove the swing to free the trapped individual. That is simply not fair.

“Children as old as 15 have been rescued in these incidents and all of those rescued are old enough to know their behaviour is irresponsible.

“We regularly attend schools to deliver safety talks and this advice will feature in those lessons and we would ask parents and guardians to do the same.”

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