Flying umbrellas can pose beach safety risks: 'Not worth somebody’s life'

While water safety is a primary concern at the shore, beachgoers and workers alike must also be vigilant about other risks. A recent incident at Cocoa Beach highlighted the danger posed by beach umbrellas.

"Those umbrellas, they’re no joke in the air. They’re a force to be reckoned with," said Asher Edwards, a beachside vendor.

An 80-year-old woman experienced this firsthand while enjoying a day on the sand. The wind picked up a beach umbrella, and its stake impaled her leg.

"This is a rare incident, something we don’t see happen very often, if at all," Ocean Rescue Chief Eisen Witcher told FOX 35 News.

First responders quickly arrived at the scene. 

"They went back and grabbed a pair of bolt cutters to cut down the umbrella canopy and remove it to stop any movement from occurring," Witcher explained.

The woman’s daughter, who was unavailable for an interview, reported that the injury was non-life-threatening.


"It is just one of those things that’s life-changing. It’s super scary," Edwards remarked.

Edwards has been working in his family’s business, renting umbrellas to beachgoers, for several months. He demonstrated one of their new umbrellas and noted its potential danger if mishandled.

"What happened Saturday is why I stress the importance of safety to my customers," he said. "As much as I do value your comfort, it’s not worth somebody’s life at the end of the day."

Beachgoers are advised to monitor the weather and secure umbrellas if bad weather approaches. 

"Definitely close, collapse, or even put it on the ground," Witcher advised.

To prevent umbrellas from becoming projectiles, they should be buried at least 16 inches in the sand and covered at the base.

"The last thing I want to see is an umbrella coming at me — a giant spear flying through the air," Edwards said.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, approximately 3,000 people end up in hospitals yearly due to umbrella-related incidents. This recent event underscores the importance of proper beach safety measures to prevent such accidents.