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Another threat
May 31, 2019
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by Ivan Raconteur

I was reading a BBC news story this week, and I thought, “That’s just great. One more thing to worry about.”

The story was about a threat I had never considered – the dangers of beach umbrellas.

Apparently, according to the story, thousands of people are injured every year by beach umbrellas.

In one gruesome example, a guy was celebrating Independence Day on the beach with his family when “a beach umbrella flew out of the sand and penetrated his left eye, piercing his brain.”

The injury affected his eyesight and the part of his brain associated with smell and taste, altering his enjoyment of food and wine.

The story states that “Data from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) indicates that more than 31,000 people were treated in hospitals for umbrella-related injuries between 2008 and 2017.”

I have dreamed of living on a beach – or at least adjacent to a beach – but now I may have to re-think that.

Previously, the biggest threats I considered when contemplating a beach lifestyle were sharks and hurricanes. Now, I have to add killer umbrellas to the list.

Many umbrella injuries seem to occur when a gust of wind catches an umbrella, causing it to take flight and impale an unsuspecting victim.

I don’t dwell on the question of how I am going to die. That seems like a morbid way to spend time.

Nonetheless, this story caused images of my own obituary to flash before my eyes.

Imagine the scene: I work for years chained to a desk. My only connection to the outdoors is the view through my office window.

Finally, I manage to get a taste of freedom and kick back in a beach chair sipping a refreshing tropical adult beverage and feeling the spray of ocean waves on my face.

Suddenly, a gust of wind turns a beach umbrella into a weapon and impales me in the chest, making a mess of my best Hawaiian shirt.

I can see the headline now: Former editor killed by flying beach umbrella.

No doubt there are worse ways to go than to be speared while enjoying a libation and looking at the ocean, but it seems cruel to cut my retirement short that way.

Until this week, I didn’t even know umbrellas were a threat.

Maybe if I am ever lucky enough to retire to a beachfront cabana, I could use this information.

When I am relaxing on the beach, I could wear body armor and a helmet to protect me from wayward umbrellas.

It’s not exactly the image I had in mind, but it’ll do.


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