4 things every parent should know about sand safety (plus a giveaway)

 My boys turned 10 last weekend, which is amazing and wonderful and unbelievable all at once.


As many of you know, we nearly lost one of our sons in a beach accident almost seven years ago, when the boys were three. I tell the story every year in hopes of helping people learn about the dangerous but preventable phenomenon of sand hole collapse. In the past, I’ve shared about this on the anniversary of our son’s rescue, but I’ve realized I really need to get the word out earlier in beach season, in order to help raise awareness for as many people as possible.

In July 2007, when my sons were three years-old and our family was visiting Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, one of them fell into a hole dug by other children, and the sand collapsed on top of him, burying him completely, with his head at least 8 inches under the surface. He was completely buried for at least five minutes; miraculously, he survived. You can read the full story here, with follow-up here . And read about it from the amazing perspective of Erika Weiland, the woman who saved his life, here.

After our accident, I learned that this kind of accident, while uncommon, is not unheard of; it is not a “freak accident.” In fact, this sort of accident happens on beaches around the world every year, more frequently than shark attacks do. The vast majority of these kinds of accidents happen to boys, between the ages of three and 21. Even when the accident is witnessed and people act quickly, it can be very difficult to dig a child out of a hole or trench on the beach; the sand wants to keep filling back in the hole. The majority of these accidents end in death.

While this kind of accident is uncommon, it’s still a risk, and one that can be prevented without too much effort. There are four easy things you can do to prevent such a tragedy.


(please pin this! I don’t have the Pin It widget, which isn’t supported on wordpress.com, but I would love for you to share this list on Pinterest)

So, that’s it: one thing to do when you arrive at the beach, one thing to do while you’re there, and one thing to do when you leave, plus one thing to teach your kids. I know that #2 seems pretty severe. I got this piece of advice from Dr. Bradley Maron, who has studied sand hole collapses, but if knee-high holes are just too shallow for your group to deal with, perhaps waist-high of the shortest person in your group?

Every year, as part of my celebration of getting our baby back, I post about our experience, in hopes of raising awareness of this entirely preventable sort of accident. Every summer these accidents continue to happen. I believe that with more awareness of the risks, such tragedy could be avoided. My internet friends have been a huge part of helping me raise awareness. Will you help me spread the word again this year?

I always like to give a little something away as part of my celebration of this amazing anniversary. This year, I would like to give away something that reminds me of the gorgeous water at Santa Rosa Beach (part of what is known as The Emerald Coast).

FLUFF Merino-Cashmere-Nylon, "Murky," 4 oz.

FLUFF Merino-Cashmere-Nylon, “Murky,” 4 oz.

I love this fiber SO much. It’s so super-gorgeous and I would love to share it with you. If the winner is a spinner, I will send you the fiber for you to spin. If the winner is a knitter but not a spinner, I will spin it for you to knit. And it the winner is neither a spinner nor a knitter, I will spin it up and knit something yummy for you.

the flip-side

the flip-side

All you have to do to enter the giveaway is spread the word about the risk of sandhole collapse and what to do to prevent these kinds of accidents. Spread the word however you’d like – on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, your own blog, word-of-mouth, or all of the above. If you spread the word online, you can link back to this page, or to one of the previous posts I linked to above. Then come back here and leave a comment, letting me know you’ve passed it on, and I’ll enter you into the drawing. I will draw a random winner next Friday, June 14, after 5:00pm EST.

Some of you, of your own volition, have already linked to this story this season. THANK YOU! If you would like to be entered in the giveaway, just leave a comment letting me know you’ve already posted/linked, and I will enter you.

Thank you, good people of the internet, for continuing to help me spread the word about this.
our family :: five years ago
July 9, 2007 – the night after the accident


53 thoughts on “4 things every parent should know about sand safety (plus a giveaway)

  1. Wonderful that all is well and that you continue to educate. I sent this post to my brother/SIL who have 2 boys, and who spend time at the beach each summer.

  2. I read about these tragedies every year and am glad to help promote awareness. I’ve tweeted this to the five people who actually read my words on Twitter. Hey, every bit counts, right?

  3. Pinned it – heading to the beach in a few weeks for our first beach week with grandbabies – good to know and remember.

  4. I shared on my FB page and 2 of my mom’s groups on FB. So grateful for your happy outcome in what could have ended tragically. Happy summertime,

  5. Shared on my FB page. Wow — I had never heard of such occurrences. So glad your outcome was great!

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  7. Done! Shared last week and on Pinterest. I’m happy to share this every year- so important for everyone to know! XO

  8. I had never heard of this phenomenon. Thanks so much for sharing.
    I’ve shared on Pinterest, my personal FB page, and my church FB page.
    So glad your boy survived!

  9. I shared on Face Book, pinned on Pinterset and Tweeted! So glad your story had a happy ending. My daughter lives near the beach I will make sure she knows. Thank you!

  10. Facebooked, as always. I still remember the horror as I read this when it first happened. I can’t believe it’s been seven years and I’m so very glad to be able to watch Little Buddha grow up!

  11. Oh! Congratulations to you and to your boys!!!
    I live in an island, a very touristic one. Three years ago, in this island, an italian little boy (4 years old) suffered the same accident in the sand, with the worst end.
    It was terrible, and sad, very sad. When you live in and island, with sand around you everywhere, you don’t realize that could be happens. Till then, every time i watch somebody digging in the beach, i tell this story.
    I would like to share and translate this rules, if you don’t mind.
    I like to read your blog a lot!

  12. Your boys are gorgeous and I am glad things turned out so well for you. When my now 35 year old cousin was 2 he also fell into a hole on the beach. While my grandparents and aunt were searching for him the tide was coming in.his little sister was strapped into her carrier, it was too heavy for me to carry to safety and I unbuckled her and took her up to the the sea wall. Had it not been for me and an older man who saw Eric go under and dug him out my aunt would’ve lost both her children that day. Eric’s wife has just (a couple weeks ago) given birth to his second child. Happy ending indeed 🙂

  13. I shared on FB. Anyone who takes kids to the beach needs to know this important info. Thank you for telling your story!

  14. I shared this on my Facebook page. I’m so glad your boys are both so happy & healthy. Thank your or sharing, I can’t imagine how I would feel if this happened to my daughter.

  15. I shared this on FB. Thank you for sharing your story. I have 3 kids who love the beach, including a three year old boy and I just can’t imagine…

  16. Shared on Facebook and pinterest I remember reading this last year you had such a scary experience I’m so glad you help bring about awareness now.

  17. Shared on FB, Twitter and Google+
    Thank you for sharing this story. We will be leaving for vacation in a few weeks, and it could not have been a better time to read it.

  18. This had never occurred to me. Happy to have the sand safety tips, and to share the post in FB. Thank you for teaching me!

  19. I just shared your story with links to FB. I’m so glad that you were one of the lucky ones and that both your boys are okay.

  20. I shared this on Facebook, I have a 6-year-old and a 3-year-old and my parents live on the beach in Florida so it really hits home. I am so happy your story has a happy ending! I knit but don’t spin and your colors are beautiful!

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  25. Shared on my Facebook wall. Thank you for this very important warning. So glad your sweet boy was ok! We just returned from Amelia Island. While walking out to the beach with my bag and beach chair and umbrella I fell in a hole! It was only 7 or 8 inches deep but I fell and all of my stuff went sprawling! I would have been happy if someone had read your post and filled in that hole too.

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