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Warne, Kaine raise concerns about beach umbrella safety

Mark Warner, Tim Kaine on continuing resolutionWith summer vacation season just around the corner, Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) are drawing attention to an unexpected danger to beachgoers: flying beach umbrellas.

Essential staples of many family vacations, the popular beach accessories can quickly become hazards when propelled by wind through the air, as has happened on several occasions in recent years, most tragically in 2016, when Lottie Michelle Belk of Chester, Va. wasstruck in the torso and killed while vacationing in Virginia Beach with her family. Today, Virginia’s Senators were joined by their colleagues from New Jersey, Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker (both D-NJ), in asking the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to do more to inform and protect the public from dangerous, and potentially lethal, flying beach umbrellas.

“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,” the Senators wrote to Consumer Product Safety Commission Chair Elliot Kaye. “Over the last several years, reports of horrific injuries resulting from beach umbrellas have splashed across the media.”

According to data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 31,000 people were treated at hospitals for umbrella-related injuries between 2008 and 2017. However, the publicly available data falls short of providing consumers with recommended safety standards to prevent beach umbrella-related injuries or information on specific products that have caused serious injuries.

The Senators noted several examples of these injuries, including a Virginia man who lost the use of his eye after a seven-foot-long beach umbrella struck him at a beach in Delaware.

The Senators are requesting more information from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, including what safety standards are in place to prevent umbrella-related injuries and problems with specific beach umbrella products, and what it is doing to ensure the public is properly educated of the risks and dangers of beach umbrellas to prevent injuries. They also requested that the CPSC provide a detailed breakdown of data on umbrella injuries, including the number of injuries caused specifically by beach umbrellas.