Congress

Dangerous flying beach umbrellas target of inquiry by New Jersey, Virginia senators

In letter to CPSC, senators note umbrella accidents that have led to injuries or death

 Sens. Robert Menendez, right, and Mark Warner are sounding the alarm about the risks of flying beach umbrellas. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Your pre-beach season public service announcement is brought to you by four Democratic senators from Atlantic coastal states, who are warning about the risks of flying beach umbrellas.

Sens. Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Mark Warner of Virginia, joined by their respective home-state colleagues Cory Booker and Tim Kaine, have asked the chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission what the agency is doing about umbrella safety. 

“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,” Menendez and Warner wrote in a Thursday letter. “Yet, a burst of wind can make these summer accessories harmful to those around them.”

In the letter addressed to Chairman Elliot Kaye, the senators refer to the tragic 2016 incident in which woman at Virginia Beach was killed after being struck by a flying umbrella. The senators also noted umbrella incidents leading to injuries in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, Ocean City, Maryland, and Bethany Beach, Delaware.

The senators asked a series of questions of the safety commission, including, “Has the CPSC received complaints regarding beach umbrellas? If so, what do those reports indicate about injuries related to beach umbrellas?” and “Is the CPSC aware of problems with specific beach umbrellas that have not been made public?”

“According to a query on the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s own website, from 2008-2017 over 31,000 people sought treatment at a hospital due to an umbrella-related injury. Unfortunately, the CPSC does not parse out the data to differentiate between types of umbrellas. Nonetheless, we request information regarding how the CPSC plans to address this issue,” the New Jersey and Virginia senators wrote.

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