Gates County Schools delayed 1 hour due to fog

Digging Dangers: Sand holes at the beach could be deadly

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The summer can be a dangerous time - and all this week on our new WGNT Newscast at 7 p.m., we are looking at ways to make sure you and your family stay safe.

More than 40 people die a year from it: sand caving in on them as they sit in a sand hole.

"And it falls on top of you while you're in the bottom of it, you're going to feel it and there's a good chance you're not going to survive it."

It happened just last month in Salvo on the Outer Banks. A man was digging a tunnel when the sand trapped and killed him.

Getting out alive is almost unheard of, since by the time the person is located, it's already too late.

"It's very, very, very rare and that's just the weight of the sand the time to find them, to dig them out," says Captain John Rigolo with the Virginia Beach Fire Department.

"And if it falls on top of you while you're in the bottom of it, you're going to feel it and there's a good chance you're not going to survive it," says Tom Gill with the Virginia Beach Life Saving Service.

Beachgoers may try to help the buried person, but that makes it worse.

"The issue with sand, particularly on the beach, is somebody's buried on the sand, a crowd will gather. That crowd, the weight of that crowd around the victim, puts weight on the victim," Capt. Rigolo says.

Rescuers' only options are children's toys. Because they don't have their own, they have to grab them from children on the beach. And those small shovels and buckets would take a long time to get anyone out.

Fire and rescue has metal shovels, but that could hurt the person underneath the sand so they wouldn't use them.

Also, as they're digging, controlling the sand itself makes the rescue even tougher.

A cubic foot box filled with dirt weighs more than 100 pounds. Wet sand would be even heavier. Capt. Rigolo says with that on your chest, you get one breath, that's it.

That's why in Virginia Beach, sand holes can't be any deeper than knee-high for the smallest person who enters. It's the safest way to avoid an avalanche or sand toppling over on you.


Throughout the week, NewsChannel 3 will alert you all of more dangers summer can present each night on the all new WGNT News at 7pm Powered By NewsChannel 3.

Rip currents that sweep people into the ocean; delayed drowning where rescued swimmers drown days later on dry land, propane explosions. And finally, deadly disease-carrying bugs, that are invading Hampton Roads: they are not only making you miserable, but they are potentially fatal.



  • knot

    It is a lot less dangerous than swimming in the we have to give out handbooks advising people not to dig a hole and crawl into it?

  • what me worry

    in other news, do not drink bleach, do not strike matches and put them in your hair, do not wash your face with kerosene

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