A 13-year-old boy was hospitalized for serious injuries after being impaled by a rogue beach umbrella during a family beach trip in Massachusetts on Friday.
In a statement, fire officials say the unnamed teen was struck by a large umbrella around 1:40 p.m. at Good Harbor Beach.
His injuries weren’t life-threatening and he was transported by ambulance to Beverly Hospital, an approximate half-hour drive away.
According to witnesses on the scene, the boy started bleeding profusely. Bystanders jumped in to help him before emergency responders arrived.
“I was sitting right there and a little gust of wind came up, and the umbrella popped straight up in the air,” witness Chris Carson, told WCVB. “Before anybody could grab it, it just kind of rolled over and the kid was standing in the way on the beach. He couldn’t get out of the way.”
Another witness, Jacob Vargus, said he sprang to action when he noticed the boy was injured.
“When I saw that, I started to run down and when I got down there, there was like a hole in the kid’s arm so I started to talk to him,” he explained. “Another lady started tying a tourniquet while others were calling the paramedics.”
The teenager is expected to make a full recovery.
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Sadly, injuries caused by flying beach umbrellas can be quite common.
Ed Quigley founded the non-profit organization Beach Umbrella Safety after he was pierced in the eye with the shaft of a beach umbrella in 2015.
He was at Bethany Beach in Delaware, not far from Ocean City, when a gust of wind picked up and hurled an unattended beach umbrella in his direction.
The shaft of the umbrella went through his left eye, shattering his eye socket. He had to have brain surgery and have his upper sinus removed.
His experience prompted him to start Beach Umbrella Safety in an effort to educate people on the dangers of unattended umbrellas on the beach and how to be safe.
“If you look at the top of an umbrella, it’s like a dome and it acts much like an airplane’s airfoil. With a gust of wind, the pressure above the umbrella will be lower than the pressure underneath and it will fly,” he says. “Even if you plant it securely in the sand and position it so it’s facing the wind, it can still be pulled out with a strong gust.”
For this reason, Quigley advocates the use of safety devices for your umbrella. His site lists a few options; the best method, he says, is to tether or affix something hollow to the bottom of a pole and fill with sand to offer extra weight.
“Some can withstand gusts of wind travelling 35 miles per hour, and probably more. But trust me, if you’re at a beach with 35-mile winds, you’re not having fun.”
In addition to investing in a safety accessory, he also says it’s imperative to never leave a beach umbrella unattended.
“If the wind picks up, take down the umbrella immediately. If you get up to leave your umbrella, close it.”
He also says there are a number of videos online that demonstrate how to properly insert a beach umbrella in the sand.
— With files from Marilisa Racco
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