TRENTON – The United States senators from New Jersey and Virginia are pushing product safety regulators to include beach umbrellas in their standards testing.

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., has been pushing for action to protect beachgoers from wind-swept flying beach umbrellas since a tourist was speared in the leg in Seaside Heights in 2018. The Virginia senators, Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, are involved because a woman was killed in 2016 in Virginia Beach, impaled in the chest by a beach umbrella.

Those three senators, joined by U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., wrote a letter today to ASTM International, a nonprofit that often partners with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which is currently testing the safety of patio and weighted-base umbrellas in various wind conditions – but not beach ones.

“Given the grave danger posed by beach umbrellas we feel it is imperative that ASTM include beach umbrellas in any new test methods,” the wrote. “Summer is in full swing, and as millions of newly vaccinated Americans emerge from their homes to spend time at the shore, we must do all we can to ensure the safety of beach umbrellas.”

The CPSC wrote to ASTM in March urging it to expand the standard to include beach umbrellas, after repeated pushes from Menendez dating back more than two years.

The CPSC said in 2019 that around 2,800 people had been treated in emergency rooms over the previous nine years for injuries related to beach umbrellas, most of them wind-blown. It knew the details about 15 incidents, including the fatality in Virginia, a person whose shin was pierced and a person whose thumb was severely cut when an umbrella broke.

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The CPSC also said its technical staff doesn’t believe a safety standard would have a substantial effect on beach-umbrella injuries because the majority of incidents result from improper or insufficient staking in the ground – and in fact could make ‘blow away’ incidents more dangerous if umbrellas are heavier.

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