When it’s hot and sunny outside, the beach is a great place to be. From topping up your tan to taking a dip in the water, there’s plenty to keep you busy here. Plus, if you’re a total kid at heart, you can always spend your time digging holes. Then again, it turns out that maybe you shouldn’t do that.
Holes in the sand are safety hazards
People dig holes at the beach for all sorts of reasons. Maybe they’re building a moat for a sandcastle? Perhaps they want to bury someone up to the neck, or it could simply be that they want to see how deep they can go? Whatever the reason, it’s usually something perfectly innocent. However, just because the intentions are harmless, that doesn’t mean the act is. When wet sand dries out, there’s a chance it can start crumbling. This means there’s a greater risk that the hole’s walls will fall apart and cave in. A grain of sand on its own won’t do you any damage, but a whole bunch of it? With sand potentially weighing up to 112 lbs per cubic foot, it’s much heavier than people realize. Not only does that mean it could trap a person in the hole, but it could also impact their ability to breathe. The pressure it would put on their chest would potentially be too much for them to handle.
The statistics speak for themselves
If you’ve been digging holes at the beach for years and never had an issue, this might seem hard to believe. However, many incidents of people getting trapped in sand have been reported around the world. In 2014, an assistant professor from Harvard Medical School revealed 77 cases of hole-related emergencies, some of which were fatal. Several years later, a guy in Florida was severely injured when the hole he was in suddenly collapsed. While these incidents might seem rare given how many people visit the beach every day, that doesn’t make them any less serious.
Even small holes are an issue
Surely it’s just deep holes that pose a danger, right? Unfortunately, that’s not the case. While smaller holes might not trap you or affect your breathing, they do still pose a trip hazard. What’s more, they can make it difficult for vehicles to reach a person in danger because the surface they need to drive across isn’t smooth. Alarmingly, these holes can also put the lives of wildlife at risk. Small animals that live near the beach may get trapped in them, such as shorebirds. Maine Audubon recently shared that juvenile shorebirds can’t escape these holes because they don’t yet have the ability to fly out of them. When that happens, there isn’t always someone around to rescue them.
The next time you go to the beach, don’t feel like you can’t dig holes if you so desire. Just make sure that they’re shallow and that you fill them in before you leave. Not only will doing this keep you safe, but it will help many others too.