Beach days are meant to be filled with fun and relaxation in the sun, but a number of risks present on public beaches can quickly turn an enjoyable day into one marred by preventable accidents and injuries. As we’ve discussed on our blog, that includes hazards associated with water safety, rip currents, sun and heat exposure, and even sharks. However, there’s another danger beachgoers may all too often overlook – beach umbrellas.
On a busy weekend at the Jersey Shore, you’d be hard pressed to miss the hundreds of bright and colorful beach umbrellas dotting the coastline. More often than not, these umbrellas do their jobs of shielding beachgoers from the sun, but in some cases, accidents can and do happen.
During a press conference held earlier this week, lifeguards and public officials called attention to beach umbrella injuries and the need for an awareness campaign that educates people about accident risks and ways to safely manage them. They’re urging the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission to step in and launch a nationwide safety initiative.
During the conference, a few statistics and concerning incidents were mentioned:
- Nearly 3,000 people in the U.S. sought emergency medical treatment for injuries involving beach umbrellas between 2010 and 2018, according to estimates from the CPSC.
- Several high-profile incidents involving beach umbrella impalement have made headlines in recent years, including one last year involving a European tourist who was impaled by an umbrella stake in the ankle while on the Jersey Shore.
- Beach umbrella accidents have also had fatal consequences; in 2016, one Virginia Beach visitor died after being struck by an errant umbrella and going into cardiac arrest.
Experts and safety advocates pushing for a public safety campaign specifically about beach umbrellas that can “turn into swords” note that while rare, beach umbrella accidents can have catastrophic consequences for victims and their families. They say taking a few simple precautions can make all the difference when reducing risks.
Beach Umbrella Safety Tips
- Choose the Right Type: Experts say consumers should consider sturdier models of umbrellas that fare better in high winds, or even opt for durable sun-shade tents that don’t use pointed stakes;
- Sand Screws: Using sand screws can help anchor beach umbrellas firmly in the sand;
- Sand Bags: If it’s a windy day or strong gusts begin to pick up, weighing down umbrellas in with sand bags can help prevent them from pulling out of the ground.
- Proper Position: Ensuring proper positioning of beach umbrellas can help avoid sudden gusts from sending these spear-tipped hazards flying through the air. Experts recommend users tilt umbrellas into the wind using a back-and-forth motion to submerge stakes into the sand.
- Property Owner Precautions – Beachgoers aren’t the only ones who can keep coastlines safe from flying umbrellas; premises owners who own businesses, homes, or other properties near or on beaches should be certain any umbrellas they use or provide guests are securely fastened and capable of withstanding heavier winds.
A great day at the beach is one that doesn’t involve accidents and injuries, and which only sees footballs and Frisbees flying through the air. Unfortunately, the negligence of careless beachgoers, premises owners, and, in some cases, manufacturers of defective products can turn a pleasant day into a potential life-threating experience.
Levinson Axelrod, P.A. hopes everyone enjoys the summer safely, and is readily available to speak with victims who have questions following accidents which could and should have been prevented, including those that take place at local beaches. Contact us to speak with an attorney. We serve clients throughout New Jersey from multiple office locations.