Before my then three year-old son’s accident at the beach in 2007, I had no idea a beach sandhole could collapse and kill a person. I knew that such a thing could happen on a construction site, but at the beach? I grew up seeing people dig big holes and long trenches in the beaches of Florida and North Carolina, and I never had any idea there was any danger in such a thing.
And then my 3 year-old fell in a hole that other children had dug – not a particularly deep hole, perhaps two feet or less – and it collapsed on top of him and completely buried him, with his head several inches under the surface. He was completely buried for several minutes; miraculously, he survived. You can read the full story here, with follow-up here. And you can read more about it from the perspective of Erika Weiland, the woman who saved his life, here.
After our son’s accident, we learned that this kind of accident, while uncommon, 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. I read about them happening in our country every summer, on both coasts.
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.
It is heartbreaking to continue to read stories of this happening to children and teenagers (and in some cases even young adults). These accidents are preventable, but only if people know that they can happen, and what to do to prevent them. Can you help me keep spreading the word?
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.
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? Please share this post, pin this graphic, even print this out and hang it on your fridge at the beach.