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Warner, Kaine urge action to protect beachgoers

U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (D-VA) are urging the Consumer Product Safety Commission to launch a public safety campaign to educate the public about the dangers of beach umbrellas.

The popular beach accessories can quickly become hazards when propelled by wind through the air, as has happened on several occasions in recent years, as in 2016, when Lottie Michelle Belk was struck in the torso and killed while vacationing in Virginia Beach with her family.

beach umbrellas
Credit: offfstock

Last month, a toddler was nearly impaled by a flying beach umbrella in North Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Today’s letter to Acting CPSC Chairwoman Ann Marie Buerkle is a follow-up to one the senators sent in May along with Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker (both D-NJ) regarding the documented safety risks posed by beach umbrellas. In a June response, the CPSC noted that an estimated 2,800 beach umbrella-related injuries were treated in emergency departments nationwide from 2010 to 2018.

Despite that, the CPSC also noted that it currently does not regulate the safety of beach umbrellas and is unaware of any voluntary standards specifically for beach umbrellas. Today, the four lawmakers urged the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC) to take more aggressive action to protect beachgoers from the dangers of wind-swept beach umbrellas that can cause serious injury or even death.

“As Americans flock to the beach this summer season, we believe it is imperative that the CPSC ensure that a day at the beach isn’t turned into a day at the emergency room,” the senators wrote.

The lawmakers mentioned other notable CPSC public education campaigns that have proven successful in changing people’s behavior and encouraging greater precaution. Specifically, they pointed to the 2010 “Safe Sleep Campaign” to educate parents and caregivers about how best to make nurseries safe; the 2015 “Anchor It!” campaign to warn of the dangers of furniture tip-overs; the annual July 4th fireworks safety campaign; and a 2017 alert to the public of fidget spinner choking hazards.

The senators also pressed CPSC on whether it has considered the efficacy of a weighted system or other safety measures that could be taken to reduce the risk of umbrellas becoming airborne and endangering beach-goers.