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Hammocks are often associated with summer and relaxation for young and old alike, but when engaging in this leisure activity, it is important not to overlook potential dangers.

Earlier this month, a 13-year-old Des Moines, Iowa girl was killed when she joined her 16-year-old sister in a hammock that had been strung up between a tree and a brick light post in the family’s yard. When the younger girl jumped into the hammock, the 5-foot-tall brick column collapsed on her head. The teen was rushed to a hospital, but died soon after she arrived. A city official said that brick columns are considered decorative features; as such, there aren’t any regulations about how much they can hold or any restrictions on building them.

Last week, a 53-year-old woman died in a hammock accident while camping at a park in Cross County, Arkansas. According to the County Sheriff, the woman was tying a hammock between two trees when one of the trees, which was rotten, snapped and fell on her head, killing the woman on impact.

If a hammock is in your summer plans, following are a number of precautions from to ensure your safety.

Be sure your hammock is secure. If you do not use a hammock stand, it is important to inspect trees and other potential structures before hanging the hammock. Make sure trees are sturdy and not rotting or dead. Check that the hanging equipment is in good condition and that both ends are attached properly. Look up at branches overhead to make sure none could fall. A hammock should never be hung from an object that has the potential to move.

Inspect hammock before hanging and each use. Inspect the hammock to make sure there are no rips or small tears which could easily rip out and examine it for signs of deterioration. Check pockets before climbing in your hammock because something such as a key or pen could put a small hole in the material.

Check hammock stretch. A hammock not taut enough when suspended results in a sagging bed, that can be bad for the spine. Hanging a hammock stretched too far could result in tipping.

Observe recommended weight limits. If you overload your hammock or stand, injuries can occur.

Keep the area around a hammock clear. Always position your hammock with plenty of firm ground around it. If the hammock support does give out or you fall out of the hammock, risk of harm is minimized.

Know how to safely get in and out of a hammock. To enter your hammock, sit as close to the center as possible, holding onto the hammock with both hands until you gain your balance. Slowly twist and lean back into the hammock, slowly bringing your legs and feet into the hammock. To exit your hammock, hold the hammock with both hands, sit up slowly, and swing your legs to the side of the hammock. Plant your feet firmly on the ground and then stand up out of the hammock. This will help keep the weight in the hammock evenly distributed, preventing tipping.

Do not swing wildly back and forth in your hammock. Swift movement can cause a hammock to tip, resulting in injury.

Kids should never use a hammock unsupervised. Children can easily become entangled in strings, resulting in potential injury. Pets should not climb in hammocks as their nails could damage the material.

Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.

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