New summer beach danger: sand holes
Apparently, every summer has to have its own fatal theme, like the Summer of the Hurricanes, the Summer of Sharks, the Summer of Killer Jellyfish and the Summer of Psychotic Beach Volleyball Enthusiasts. (I made up that last one. It was really just A Few Weeks In June of the Psychotic Beach Volleyball Enthusiasts.)
What we're talking about here are the various life-threatening conditions that curiously materialize during the summer to scare the bejesus out of people going to the beach. The threats rarely live up to their hype. For instance, the Summer of Sharks a few years ago in Florida involved a couple people getting nipped on the ankles by sharks the size of poodles.
There was a summer with a lot of hurricanes on the East Coast, but that took forecasters by surprise. So they decided to declare the next summer the Summer of Hurricanes. But there was only one -- and his name was "Bud." He knocked over a few beach umbrellas and mussed a lifeguard's hair before limping back into the Atlantic Ocean and becoming a balmy breeze.
Apparently, all the really cool dangerous things that can happen during the summer at the beach have been taken, so the big peril to humans this summer -- and I'm not making this up -- is sand holes. Yes, it is the Summer of Deadly Sand Holes. Writers at the New England Journal of Medicine (a bigger group of sniveling worrywarts you'd be hard pressed to find) warn that holes in the beach left by people building sand castles and such kill more people every year than do sharks.
"In the past decade, there have been reports of 31 fatalities and 21 nonfatal cases of people submerged in sand when the sand holes they were digging for fun collapsed in on them," wrote Harvard Medical School doctor and chief sniveling worrywart Bradley Maron.
This is chilling information for Hawaii, a state somewhat known for having a bit of sand in places. We call those places "beaches" and each island is surrounded by what we now know are deathtraps. We've had people killed by sharks, hurricanes, jellyfish and even falling coconuts, but the historical record is replete with a lack of accounts of people dying in sand holes. (I think Captain Cook may have met his demise in one on the Big Island.)
Nevertheless, these alarmist proclamations serve to put CNN on alert so that if anyone even trips in the sand from Cape Cod to Miami it will be blamed on Sand Holes and lead the 6 o'clock news. By the end of the summer, you will think East Coast beaches have more sand holes than Normandy on D-Day.
I'm looking forward to what the worrywarts come up with for next summer, now that they've reached the bottom of the sand pail. My guess would be the Summer of Marauding Sand Fleas, the Summer of Defective Chinese-Made Sunscreen, or my favorite, the Summer of Vindictive Falling Coconuts.
Buy Charles Memminger's
hilarious new book, "Hey, Waiter, There's An Umbrella In My Drink!" at island book stores or online
at any book retailer. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org