After Death of 15-Year-Old Girl, How to Be Safe While Using Hammocks

After a Kentucky teen was killed in a hammock incident this week, here are some tips to follow before you get in one.

A Kentucky teenager has died after a tree fell on top of her while she was sitting in a hammock.

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Ballerina Michelle Chalk, 15, was in a hammock at a friend's home when the tree fell and left her trapped. She died as rescuers struggled to free her Tuesday.

She was a talented dancer who performed in annual productions of the Nutcracker with the Cincinnati Ballet.

"Well, we are just heartbroken for the family, for the friends, for the teachers, for everyone who knew this amazing, remarkable girl," Karen Cheser, the superintendent for the Fort Thomas Independent Schools told reporters following the tragedy. "I did not know her but all I've heard is how she was just a bright, shining star and it is devastating for everyone here. Our hearts, our prayers, our thoughts are out to her family and friends."

Hammocks may be a great way to relax in the summer, but they can also be extremely dangerous if not used properly.

In 2011, 14-year-old Kendra Muller and a few of her friends were relaxing in a hammock attached to two brick pillars used to hold up a deck. Suddenly, the brick column collapsed on top of Muller.

The accident left her a quadriplegic.

“I got knocked out and then when I woke up I thought that the bricks were limiting my movement and that's why I couldn't stand up but it turned out I was paralyzed. That's why I couldn't stand up,” she told Inside Edition.

She had to learn how to eat, speak and breathe all over again.

While people may no doubt be eager to laze in a hammock this summer, expert Derek Hansen, who sleeps in a hammock every night and runs the website The Ultimate Hang, provided some of his top tips to Inside Edition.

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1) Only use the materials that come with the hammock, such as carabiners and straps.

2) Hang the hammock no more than 18 inches above the ground.

3) Clear any debris from beneath the hammock before using.

4) Hang hammock from sturdy, healthy trees.

5) If hanging from a post, be sure it is at least six inches in diameter and that at least 1/3 of its length is sunk into the ground and anchored with concrete.

6) Do not jump into the hammock. Sit sideways and then swing your feet in.

7) Do not exceed the intended weight of the hammock which can usually be found on the strap or inside the hammock.

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