With summer fast approaching, Senators from New Jersey and Virginia are asking the Consumer Product Safety Commission to take action on beach umbrella safety. Noting that 31,000 people have been injured by flying beach umbrellas between 2008 and 2017, a letter from all four senators to the agency reads, "Recently, we heard from constituents impacted by flying beach umbrellas, which have caused injury, and in at least one recent case, death. As you know, beach umbrellas provide beachgoers the benefits of shade on hot and sunny days at the shore. Yet, a burst of wind can make these summer accessories harmful to those around them."
Last July, a flying beach umbrella impaled the ankle of a woman on the beach of Seaside Heights, NJ. Ricardo Zepeda, who was on the beach at the time, wrote on Instagram, "Bruuuuh holy shit! This lady had an umbrella go through her leg 5 feet away from me! There was a strong gust of wind, there were a couple umbrellas flying. One of the corners of a random one went THROUGH HER FUCKING LEG!"
Zepeda later told Gothamist he could "see about five inches of the umbrella from the other side" of her ankle, adding, "For it to go that deep, it must have been going really fast."
The victim, a woman from London, said in a statement, "It was a beautiful day and a gust of wind blew the umbrella. It was just an accident."
The letter, from Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Mark R. Warner (D-Virginia), and co-signed by their colleagues Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Tim Kaine (D-Virginia), details other incidents: "In 2015, a Virginian man lost the use of his eye after a seven-foot-long beach umbrella struck him at Bethany Beach, Delaware.... [In 2018] a woman sitting on the beach in Ocean City, Maryland was pierced below the collarbone by a beach umbrella. Most tragically, in June 2016, a Virginia resident lost her life after a gust of wind launched an umbrella into the air, striking her in the torso while she was on vacation in Virginia Beach."
To ensure the public is equipped with the most updated information, we request responses to the following questions:
What if any safety standards does the CPSC have in place to adequately prevent beach umbrella-related injuries?
Does CPSC believe any particular safety standard could prevent injuries?
What is the CPSC doing to educate the public regarding the dangers of beach umbrellas?
Has the CPSC received complaints regarding beach umbrellas? If so, what do those reports indicate about injuries related to beach umbrellas?
Is the CPSC aware of problems with specific beach umbrellas that have not been made public?
Can the CPSC provide a detailed breakdown of data on umbrella injuries? Specifically, how many injuries are specifically caused by beach umbrellas?
One man in Belmar told News 12, "These things are like a projectile. They have a spike. The umbrella outside hit me in the chest as opposed to the spike…I was lucky."
The Today Show visited the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety last year and get tips on how to "properly" secure a beach umbrella, like "Take your umbrella and bury it in the sand by using a rocking back and forth motion. DON’T just stab it into the sand. The rocking motion is key; plus, you should always make sure to read the instructions on your beach umbrella. A good rule of thumb is to bury the umbrella post at least 1/3 of the way down in the sand."