Call for action follows Senator’s push for Consumer Product Safety Commission to look into the dangers after a woman was impaled last summer at Jersey Shore, Virginia woman killed in 2016
MANASQUAN, N.J. – A year after a tourist was impaled by a flying beach umbrella at the Jersey Shore, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) stood on the beach in Manasquan to call on 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. On July 16, 2018, a beach umbrella took off with a gust of wind in Seaside Heights, N.J., and speared the woman in the leg. In 2016, a woman in Virginia Beach was killed by a beach umbrella that got caught in the wind and struck her in the chest. Last month, a toddler was nearly impaled by a flying beach umbrella in North Myrtle Beach, S.C.
“We need awareness. We need guidance. And we need the Consumer Product Safety Commission to do its job. In my view, the only things that should be flying through air on a sunny day at the beach should be seagulls and Frisbees—not spear-tipped beach umbrellas that have the potential to claim lives,” said Sen. Menendez. “That’s why today I’m calling on the CPSC to pursue this issue more aggressively.”
Flanked by Manasquan Mayor Edward Donovan, lifeguards and beach patrol, the senator today called on the CPSC to develop an aggressive public safety and awareness campaign to educate beachgoers on the dangers of beach umbrellas and remind them to ensure they are properly staked in the sand.
In a letter Sen. Menendez sent today to Acting CPSC Chairwoman Ann Marie Buerkle, cosigned by Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-Va.), the lawmakers also urged the CPSC to consider the efficacy of a weighted other alternative systems that could improve safety and mitigate serious injury.
“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 noted 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 call for action follows a May letter to CPSC, Sen. Menendez led with Sens. Warner, Booker and Kaine, requesting specific information on the beach umbrella threat. In its June 7 response, CPSC reported an estimated 2,800 people sought treatment at emergency rooms over a nine-year period from 2010-2018 for beach umbrella-related injuries. The agency also stated it explored requiring a performance standard, requiring umbrellas to “contain venting”, the development of a staking requirement, and the development of a warning label system, but it did not indicate that it looked into an anchor or weighted system, or other potential safety solutions.