For those living near the coast, life is in many ways much more relaxing and pleasant than for those living inland. The ocean has been proven to relieve stress. There’s the sun, the sand, the summer swimming, the fresh seafood: so many delights to take advantage of. There are also extra stresses and responsibilities, though. And that is especially true with the increased number of hurricanes hitting the coasts now.
One risk that rarely gets covered is the deterioration of piers, boats, and boardwalks.
While many people are aware that ships and harbors must be maintained, and that there are risks for sailors and longshoremen when they are not, these risks are rarely extended to those who do not approach the ocean as professionals. Yes, those professions do have greater risks of injury due not just to the heavy, labor-intensive work they do but to the amount of time they spend on the coast and on the water in all types of weather (which can be, even in the 21st century, quite dangerous), but that does not mean the average citizen is not also at risk to some extent.
It is a surprise to no one that the infrastructure in America is declining and the issue is not being properly addressed. Anyone driving over enough of the American highway is sure to see the decrease in quality. However, far less thought of is the decreasing strength and reliability of piers and boardwalks. After being battered by storm after storm, these can become quite dangerous locations, especially for the types of carefree play that take place on them. When made of wood, these areas can rot. When made of more sturdy elements, they can become uneven, be subject to cracks, and of course, be quite wet. Rails can rust and lose their sturdiness even when they look to be in sound condition.
The danger in these areas should not be underestimated, for two reasons. One, they are located in a dangerous area. Falling into the water, though it can sound amusing, can often lead to serious injury. After all, someone could hit their head on a rock under the surface. Drowning is always a risk, even when the level of the water is low. And yes, that is true even when the person falling in is an adult and a good swimmer.
Two, those who are most likely to be injured are children. Children are, of course, less aware of their surroundings and less responsible. A day at the beach other further unleashes these tendencies. When parents are not keeping a careful eye, assuming children are safe because the location looks safe, that can actually increase the risk to children.
Children are also usually not strong swimmers. They are less steady on their feet, more likely to be running, and more likely to be climbing on objects they shouldn’t be.
This can all lead to tragic consequences.
It’s important for everyone to be aware of this risk, and for something to be done to rebuild as much of the oceanside infrastructure as possible with an eye to withstanding storms.