Warning: Cold water Amherst, Hollis schools warn about dangers of Facebook plunge

AMHERST – Local high schools are warning parents and students about the dangers of icy rivers and ponds after some kids began circulating invitations to participate in a Facebook “polar plunge.”

According to Peter Gagnon, dean of students at Souhegan High School, students have invited other students, family and friends to jump into icy water.

“Students have been seen jumping into the cold and fast-moving waters of the Souhegan River,” said Gagnon in an emailed warning to parents.

Typically the person invited has 24 hours to complete the challenge, which is filmed and documented, ending with an invitation to the next person. “Although this activity was no doubt created to be a fun and harmless challenge,” wrote Gagnon “it also carries potential for inappropriate and unsupervised danger.”

Gagnon said he sent out the warning notice on April 2 and received about a half dozen responses, including one from a parent whose child came home wet and said he’d been videotaped during his chilly dip.

Parents concerned

The parent spent some time on Tuesday talking to the student about the inherent dangers, he said.

“Parents are concerned” and we want other parents to be aware this is happening, Gagnon said.

Gagnon said he learned about the activity from an administrator at Hollis-Brookline High School who wanted other schools to be aware of it.

The Facebook “polar plunge” appears to have no relationship to the New Hampshire Polar Plunge held on the Seacoast each winter to raise money for Special Olympics.