Beach days can be both relaxing and fun, but it's important to remember that there are some well-known and some less well-known dangers at the beach. While most beachgoers are aware of hazards like rip currents and sunburn, there are other risks that may not be as commonly known, such as the danger posed by airborne umbrellas, which are also colloquially known as runaway umbrellas.
A runaway beach umbrella is one that is lifted out of the sand by a gust of wind. The force of the wind catching the umbrella canopy either snaps the umbrella pole or the pole comes loose from its holder or stand. This often results in a dangerous situation with the airborne umbrella flying and tumbling ferociously down the beach.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), estimates that in recent years there have been more than 2,800 beach umbrella-related injuries treated in emergency departments across the United States. These injuries ranged from cuts and bruises to more serious injuries such as impalement, fractures, and concussions. Tragically, there have even been some fatalities resulting from a blow-away beach umbrella.
What can be done to protect beachgoers?
These statistics and awful personal stories demonstrate that runaway beach umbrellas should be taken seriously by beachgoers. The safety issues relating to airborne umbrellas became so serious that Lawmakers got involved and demanded better safety standards for beach umbrellas.
As a result, ASTM International, a standards development organization, has been leading efforts via its Beach Umbrellas Task Group (codenamed ASTM 15.79) to develop the first safety standard for sand-mounted beach umbrellas. The scope of the standard covers stand-alone beach umbrellas and those combined with a beach umbrella sand anchor. The purpose of a sand anchor is to secure an umbrella in the sand and prevent it from being blown away by the wind yet many of them do not achieve their objective.
Therefore, the standard is expected to incorporate requirements on how umbrellas and sand anchors perform in varying wind and sand conditions. Once the Task Group completes its work, the standard will be published and made available for adoption by manufacturers. The ultimate aim is that the standard will contribute to more wind safe umbrellas on the beach.
Securing a beach umbrella
The CPSC is a key member of the ASTM committee and is significantly contributing to the development of the standard. They are currently collecting data on wind performance of sand anchors and beach umbrellas by performing testing on beaches and in a laboratory under varying wind and sand conditions.
Research has found that even small amounts of wind-related vibration on an umbrella pole decreases its grip in the sand. This increases the chance that the umbrella will be picked up by the wind and fly away. However, they found that umbrellas that are weighted down are relatively unaffected by wind vibrations.
These findings are consistent with the current CPSC recommendations of anchoring an umbrella base pole with a weight and burying it up to two feet deep in the sand. The full list of CPSC tips can be found on their website.
One of the members of the CPSC team contributing to umbrella safety awareness is Ed Quigley of www.beachumbrellasafety.org, who himself was severely injured in a fly-away umbrella accident. Ed advocates that beachgoers – along with a vented umbrella - use a weighted sand anchor. Ed emphasises that beachgoers must use umbrellas responsibly. Those responsible for an accident could face legal repercussions. Additionally, they may carry a heavy burden of guilt for causing injury, distress or death to someone else.
Choosing the right sand anchor
How do you make sure your beach umbrella stays put?
When installing an umbrella the best practice is to bury the umbrella pole deep in the sand and to weigh it down with an anchor. It may well be that your umbrella came with a cork screw sand anchor on the base pole. Regrettably these plastic corkscrew sand anchors lack both weight and depth components necessary for safely securing an umbrella.
If you’ve already determined that you need a sand anchor keep in mind that the sandbag solution might not be your best option. The common complaint with sandbag anchors are that they take time to install, require a lot of dirty work and need parts that can get lost or left at home. It's also worth noting that municipalities, such as Myrtle Beach, have banned the use of tents and umbrellas with tethers and sandbags on certain busy days of the year. This is because they take up too much space on the beach and are a tripping hazard.
Now going to the beach should never end up being complicated or impractical. That is why our top choice of sand anchor is the Hammering Stake. Not only will it secure an umbrella in the strongest beachgoing winds but it's also so convenient and easy to use on any type of beach. If your not familiar with the key features of the Hammering Stake here is what you should know:
- It takes 10 seconds to install
- The 17” pointed metal nose penetrates deep into all types of beach terrain
- The metal nose weighs down the umbrella for added security
- It is made with high-quality materials and extremely durable
- It doubles as your umbrella base pole and is easy to carry (it’s not just another beach accessory you have to remember to put in your bag).
The danger of beach umbrellas being carried away by the wind is real and can pose a significant risk to beachgoers. However, this risk can be easily mitigated by using a strong sand anchor like the Hammering Stake. With the Hammering Stake, you can relax and enjoy your beach day with the peace of mind that your umbrella won't topple over.
At Handy Beach Goods, we believe that by providing a convenient and effective solution for securing your umbrella, more people will take the necessary precautions to prevent accidents and injuries caused by runaway umbrellas. With our product, beachgoers can enjoy a stress-free day at the beach and avoid the potential dangers of flying beach umbrellas.
When using the Hammering Stake please be sure to follow all instructions and safety guidelines provided. Always exercise caution when setting up your umbrella on the beach and ensure that it is securely anchored before use. To ensure secure anchoring, the metal nose should be submerged ¾ of its length into the beach.