This post originally written by WJBR Digital Production Intern, Elyse DiPisa. DiPisa is a sophomore Media Communications student at the University of Delaware from Montgomery County, PA. Along with being a Digital Content Intern for WJBR, Elyse also works for the university’s Student Television Network 49 News Program and as a tour guide for the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.
Delaware’s Bethany Beach town council has put in place a new ordinance as of Friday, April 16, for beachgoers to follow – prohibiting individuals to dig big holes in the sand on the beach.
With a unanimous vote, the ordinance passed and the town has now banned all holes larger than two feet wide and one foot in depth.
This ruling is a safety measure. These holes can be dangerous to beachgoers, wildlife, as well as ocean lifeguards and rescuers. Nearby beach-towns have had issues regarding children falling into these large holes and sand collapsing, resulting in rescues. The ordinance will ideally eliminate this safety concern.
Beaches in other states have also put similar regulations and restrictions into place in order to protect beachgoers. These beach towns include locations in Maryland, California, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
Nearby Ocean City Beach Patrol saw a fatality in 2017 of a Texas woman visiting the beach on vacation. The woman fell into a hole in the sand at night that proceeded to collapse in on her. The Ocean City Beach Patrol now routinely practices protocol for digging out victims buried in the sand during their Surf Rescue Academy at the beginning of the summer seasons.
Ocean City Today says that national statistics show individuals have a higher chance of a sand hole collapse than encountering a shark attack.
In order to enforce this new ordinance, lifeguards are instructed to let individuals know to fill in holes that are too deep and considered dangerous. For those that do not abide by the instruction, fines between $50 and $100 have been approved by town officials in order to serve as “enforcement mechanisms” according to the Associated Press News.
If you are headed to Bethany Beach or another beach this summer and plan on playing in the sand, be wary of the size of the holes you are digging – and remember to fill them in when you are finished – it could save a life.