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Death of beachgoer raises awareness of umbrella safety

Beach umbrella in the sun
Justin Ballard
South Carolina Emergency Information Network
A beachgoer sustained fatal injuries last week on a S.C. beach after being impaled by a beach umbrella.

Awareness surrounding the danger of improperly secured beach umbrellas was brought to the forefront last week when a South Carolina woman died from injuries sustained by a beach umbrella.

Sixty-three-year-old Tammy Perreault was killed last Wednesday in Garden City due to chest trauma when a beach umbrella was blown from its anchoring by a strong gust of wind. While deaths from beach umbrellas are not a common occurrence, thousands of injuries occur every year according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Beach umbrellas have a spiked end to help drive them into the sand, but their wide canopy can get caught up in strong gusts of wind if they are not secured properly. This results in beach umbrellas that act as wind-blown missiles, posing a serious danger to any person along the beach.

There are some ways to ensure the proper grounding of a beach umbrella. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends driving beach umbrellas to a depth of at least 16 inches, rocking firmly back and forth until its buried deep with sand packed tightly around the base. While setting up the umbrella, it is recommended to tilt the umbrella into the wind to avoid any possibility of wind lifting the umbrella out of the sand. The best way to ensure a secured beach umbrella is to anchor the base with some form of weight.