Americans have been warned to stop trying the “boiling water challenge” after several cases of people being burned.

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With large parts of the US hit by a deep freeze last week, some took up the challenge to throw water in the air and watch it instantly turn into frozen vapour.

The stunt, during the so-called polar vortex, has gone viral – and while it may look like an interesting science experiment to create clouds of steam, several people ended up in hospital as the wind blew the boiling water back on them.

Chicago’s Loyola University Medical Centre said it had treated eight people who tried the exercise.

A spokeswoman said the hospital had seen injuries to the face, hands, arms and feet – as well as “varying degrees of burns”. Onlookers were also among the victims.