As beach season approaches, N.J. senators target flying beach umbrellas

South Seaside Park in August 2014. (Justin Auciello for WHYY)

South Seaside Park in August 2014. (Justin Auciello for WHYY)

New Jersey’s Democratic United States senators are investigating flying beach umbrellas.

In a letter to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission on Thursday, Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker say beach umbrellas can be dangerous.

“Recently, we heard from constituents impacted by flying beach umbrellas, which have caused injury, and in at least one recent case, death. As you know, beach umbrellas provide beachgoers the benefits of shade on hot and sunny days at the shore,” the senators, joined by their Virginia colleagues, wrote. “Yet, a burst of wind can make these summer accessories harmful to those around them.”

The senators cite data that between 2008 and 2017, more than 31,000 people have sought treatment at a hospital due to an umbrella injury.

And they want answers, because the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission “does not parse out the data to differentiate between types of umbrellas,” according to the letter.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

The senators offer numerous examples of serious injuries or deaths caused by flying umbrellas, including a British woman who was impaled in her ankle on a Seaside Height beach last summer.

They want to know if the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is aware of the problems, any public awareness awareness campaigns about beach umbrella safety are underway, and if specific beach umbrellas are problematic.

Dominick Solazzo, owner of Shore and More General Store in Seaside Park, says it’s essential to always use a “market style” umbrella because “they’re the most sturdy in high wind conditions.”

Solazzo offers four rules for umbrella safety:

  • Always use an umbrella anchor.
  • Never leave an umbrella unattended.
  • Angle the umbrella towards the wind direction so the wind doesn’t get under it.
  • When wind speed reaches 25 mph or above, don’t use it.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal