A woman in South Carolina was killed Wednesday after she was accidentally impaled in the chest by an umbrella on a windy day at the Garden City beach, according to authorities.
Horry County Chief Deputy Coroner Tamara Willard said that winds lifted an umbrella that struck 63-year-old woman Tammy Perreault, who died at around 1:31 p.m. after being transferred to a hospital for treatment of chest trauma, news station WBTW reported.
The beach, which is operated by the county, has rules that ban setting a beach umbrella within 10 feet of an established umbrella line, according to the station. The umbrellas also need to be secured and can’t block a lifeguard’s view.
Injuries and deaths in similar situations are not uncommon across the country. A spokesperson for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which specializes in reporting about product safety, among other duties, told Newsweek on Thursday that its data showed that two deaths were associated with beach umbrellas between 2013 and 2018.
“Over the nine-year period 2010-2018, there were an estimated 2,800 beach umbrella-related injuries treated in emergency departments nationwide,” the spokesperson said. “Any incident of a beach umbrella going airborne is alarming and can be dangerous or even deadly.”
Meanwhile, a study published in the Journal of Safety Research found that 5,512 beach umbrella injuries were recorded by the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System between 2000 and 2019.
The study revealed that 50.6 percent of beach umbrella injuries were caused by wind and that 44 percent of the most frequently reported injuries were laceration cases. Also, 19.8 percent were contusions or abrasions, while 16.6 percent were internal organ injuries that most often affected the head or neck.
The majority of patients with beach and patio umbrella injuries who were treated at emergency facilities were women 40 and above, according to the study.
The CPSC recommends that beachgoers submerge their beach umbrella poles at least 2 feet into the sand and tilt them into the wind to keep them from blowing away and potentially injuring someone.
Cases of Beach Umbrella Injuries
In July 2018, a British tourist was impaled by an umbrella on New Jersey’s Seaside Heights beach. The woman, 67-year-old Margaret Reynolds, was struck in her right ankle with an aluminum umbrella that first responders had to dislodge with a bolt cutter.
That same month, a 46-year-old woman was injured after she was hit in the chest by a stray beach umbrella with a wooden shaft in Ocean City, Maryland. Although the umbrella pierced her skin, her injuries were non-life-threatening.
Around 8 million people come every year to Ocean City, according to the city’s website, most of which visit during the summer.