Here it is, the first of the Renee and Karyl chronicles.
We were in Cancun. It was about 6 pm and the beach was deserted. We decided to go for a swim. After swimming for a few minutes we noticed we were getting pulled out further and further. I started trying to swim back to shore and noticed that despite trying I was still getting pulled out. We both started swimming hard to shore and we made no progress. I, being a panicky sort, panicked. I had never had such a hard time getting in. I imagined getting pulled far out to sea and dying a horrible death eaten by sharks. Renee was trying to swim in but clearly not as worried as I was.
I finally got my foot in the ground and started trying to jog/walk/pull myself in instead of swim. I was having some success and told Renee to give me her hand. She was about 2 to 3 feet further out. She said “My bathing suit is coming off.” I was like “Seriously? We may die here and you are worried about your bathing suit?” I grabbed her hand and pulled her. I’m sure she whined and complained. It was life or death to me.
When we got to shore, I noticed black flags on the beach right where we had gone in. I hadn’t noticed them. Renee said “Oh, I saw those but I didn’t know what they meant.” At the time, neither did I exactly but I think I may have guessed that they meant something BAD!
Later I found out about the flags on the beaches in Cancun:
- Black Flag: Dangerous. Don’t swim.
- Red Flag: Use extreme caution, dangerous.
- Yellow Flag: Use caution.
- Green Flag: Safe to swim.
As it turns out, I wasn’t overreacting! We really were in a dangerous situation. Sometimes being panicky can save your life! It turns out that we had encountered a rip tide. It was my first time! It was so very scary.
I learned my lesson and I hope Renee did too. First, if you see black flags, don’t go swimming! Second, ifyou see black flags, please tell your friend! And third, if your life is at risk, don’t worry about your bathing suit coming off. 🙂
Seriously though folks, if you do find yourself in a rip current, please remember the following:
- Don’t Fight The Rip Current – Conserve energy, keep calm, float, breathe, don’t panic, and wave for help
- Go With The Flow – You can easily float in the current, there is no undertow. Allow the current to take you away from the beach. In weaker rips, swim parallel to the shore until the current has completely relaxed. Otherwise, the current will eventually release you offshore. Once this happens swim perpendicular and towards the beach
- Wait For Help – If there is large surf or shoreline hazards, wave your hands for help and wait for assistance