4 Things Every Parent Should Know About Sand Safety

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?

cold,smooth& tasty.

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.

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Eleven years after a miracle

It’s been eleven years since one of my twin sons almost died in an accident at the beach. Eleven years since a stranger intervened and turned our lives from grief to joy. Eleven years of being able to move forward with our family intact and love both of these beautiful children every single day.

 

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July 2007

Eleven years is a long time to live with a miracle. It’s easy in the day-to-day to forget what a gift each moment really is. It’s easy to let the intensity of the near-loss and the unexpected recovery to fade as the press and stress of daily life takes over. But on the anniversary of almost losing him, I stop to remember how close we came to disaster, and I recommit myself to nurturing gratitude for and mindfulness of the profound gift of life.

It’s hard sometimes for me to talk about this experience publicly, because I know so many people who have suffered the loss of a child (including in sand hole collapses), and I don’t want my own celebration after a near-loss to be somehow insensitive to parents who grieve. And yet it is precisely this – the fact that any one of us could lose any beloved and precious person at any time – that compels me to write. To live in the awareness of the fragility of life is to discover that every breath is a miracle, every moment we have with anyone we love is a miracle. I got a real honest-to-goodness miracle on the beach that day, thanks to a woman who was radically open to the stirrings of the Spirit. But each of us is surrounded by miracles every day, and the world is so much better when we treat each other with the awe and wonder and gratitude befitting this reality.

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November 2017

A lot has changed in my life since the last time I wrote about our miracle on the beach. A lot has changed even since this picture above, of our family last fall. In January, I was unexpectedly diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma, a rare, aggressive soft tissue cancer, and by the time it was discovered, it was already Stage IV. I was feeling well when I was diagnosed, and I’m feeling well still, but it’s been a hard few months of treatments and major life decisions and trying to survive.

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June 2018

Our family looks like this now. I no longer have the hair that Rob and I have always shared. There have been a lot of other losses along the way, but what happened on the beach in Santa Rosa in 2007 reminds me daily not only that life can change in an instant but also that impossibly good things can happen even after things have gone horrifyingly wrong. So I face every day with a lot of hope. And joy. And the love of the three men in this picture as well as a wide web of family and friends who are holding me up.

Even though I rarely write in this space anymore, I had to come by and invite my readers again to celebrate with me that we got our son back. Thank you for sharing in our joy and gratitude. [I’ll be back tomorrow with a more practical reminder about sand hole safety!]

July 2007

July 2007

May 2018

May 2018

4 Things You Need to Know About Sand Safety (plus a giveaway)

Well, hello there, reader. Yes, it’s been awhile. Two months have flown by since my last post, and in that time, I’ve traveled thousands of miles, both literally and emotionally, and I just haven’t had the time or energy to write. I’ve had to make choices between making something (knit, spin, cook, bake) or writing about it; when that’s the choice, the making always wins.

But today is a very special day, and I couldn’t let it pass without my annual blog post about it.

my "little" boys

These are my twin sons, who are now (gulp) 11 years old. They amaze me daily and I’m so grateful to have them in my life. Today, I count my blessings a little bit more, because eight years ago today, we nearly lost one of them.

I tell the story every year in hopes of helping people learn about the dangerous but preventable phenomenon of sand hole collapse. In July 2007, when our 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.

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(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.

handspun squishiness

I’d like to send you a skein of my latest handspun yarn. This is 222 yards of worsted-weight 2-ply South African Superfine (think merino, only softer!), hand-dyed by the inimitable David of Southern Cross Fibre in the “Nobby” colorway. This yarn will knit up beautifully into a gorgeous fall accessory. (If you aren’t a knitter and you win this giveaway, I will knit something for you).

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 to this post and leave a comment below, letting me know you’ve passed it on, and I’ll enter you into the drawing. I will draw a random winner next Wednesday, July 15, 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.July 2007