New fear unlocked: death by beach umbrella. According to local officials, a South Carolina woman has died after a beach umbrella impaled her in the chest. She suffered injuries after it went flying in a gust of wind.
Before the tragedy, Tammy Perreault was enjoying her day at Garden City beach on Wednesday. Around 12:40 PM, the umbrella broke loose and struck her in the chest, Deputy Coroner Tamara Willard told reporters.
Beach umbrellas have a sharp end to help push them into the sand. In addition, their wide canopy allows them to get caught up in a strong wind if someone doesn’t anchor them properly, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said.
Good Samaritans, off-duty first responders rush to help victim after suffering injuries
Soon after the incident, off-duty medical professionals and good Samaritans in the area quickly bolted into action to try and save the woman. They did everything they could to try and save her before paramedics arrived, per reports from officials.
Sadly, according to reports, the 63-year-old woman passed away about an hour later at a nearby hospital from chest trauma.
“This is a terrible loss, and we know our community is hurting,” Thomas Bell, a spokesperson for Horry County Emergency Management, told reporters. “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the victim as they navigate through this difficult time.”
Scotty’s Surfside Bar, a local bar and restaurant the victim often visited, posted a touching tribute to her on their Facebook page.
“Today with heavy hearts we mourn the loss of a dear friend and kind-hearted local, Tammy Perreault,” the post wrote.
They added: “Some things we will never begin to understand but what we do know is no one has a bad thing to say about this woman. To be as sweet as her day in and day out should be a goal for all.”
Interestingly, injuries and deaths from beach umbrellas flying down beaches after they’ve been caught in the wind aren’t uncommon.
The pointed end of the umbrellas can become fatal once a gust of wind catches the umbrella’s canopy and sends it flying, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said.
The federal agency estimates that about 3,000 people are injured annually by beach umbrellas.
In 2016, a similar tragedy occurred when a flying beach umbrella killed 55-year-old Lottie Michelle Belk in Virginia Beach. As a result, U.S. senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner requested the safety agency to review safety rules for beach umbrellas.
How to properly install your beach umbrella
Before you settle your butt into your beach chair, here are some tips to protect you, your family, friends, and those around you. First, anchor it down. Umbrellas can be anchored with specialized umbrella anchors, sandbags, and other items to keep them in place.
Next, be mindful of the wind. You don’t want the umbrella to be open to the wind side. Instead, you want to put your umbrella into the wind and tilt it to the way the wind is coming to you.
Finally, consider getting an umbrella with vents. A vented umbrella or canopy has flaps that allow for the wind to pass through and escape without the wind being trapped and lifting the umbrella or canopy. Watch how it’s down below.