80-Person Human Chain Saves Swimmers From Florida Rip Current


On July 8, teamwork between 80 strangers on a beach saved the lives of almost a dozen swimmers in Panama City, Florida. When 10 people got caught in a rip current offshore, beachgoers formed a human chain to rescue them from drowning, according to The Washington Post and the Panama City News Herald.

Roberta Ursrey and her husband, mother, nephew, and sons were swimming at the beach on Saturday when her sons got caught up in a rip current and began screaming for help. The rest of the family swam out to help, only to get caught up in the current themselves. Others who attempted to rescue them got caught in the current, too. Ursrey told the News Herald that the water was about 15 feet deep.

There was no lifeguard on duty, but other swimmers back on the beach came up with a plan to help: People began forming a human chain out into the water. It started with just a few volunteers and finally grew to about 80 people in total, some of whom couldn’t swim themselves. Still, they ventured into the surf to help save the exhausted swimmers, who had been treading water for at least 20 minutes.

Jessica Simmons and her husband Derek used boogie boards to swim past the human chain and reach Ursrey's children, Noah and Stephen, and pass them back along the chain toward the beach. Roberta Ursrey blacked out before she eventually reached the shore with the help of Jessica. Roberta's mother, Barbara Franz, had a heart attack in the water.

An hour after the first individuals got caught up in the current, all 10 of the swimmers were taken back to shore. Several were taken to the hospital and were in stable condition as of July 11.

According to the U.S. Lifesaving Association, rip currents are the cause of more than 80 percent of the rescues lifeguards perform on beaches. In the U.S., approximately 100 people drown each year as a result. The fast-moving waters are difficult to navigate, even for the strongest swimmers, and many people who try to save others from rip currents drown in the process—making this rescue method a particularly impressive and effective choice.

[h/t The Washington Post]

Tune in Tonight: Mental Floss on Jeopardy!

All that time you've spent on here is about to pay off.

Tune in tonight for Jeopardy! and you'll catch the debut of the "I Learned It From Mental Floss" category. Big bucket list moment for us.

We've been working closely with the Jeopardy! team over on Instagram, sharing amazing facts on both @jeopardy and @mental_floss. Study up!

Check your local listings for stations and show times.

Millennials Get Blamed for a Lot, But They Could Help to Save the U.S. Postal Service


Millennials get a bad rap for destroying everything from homeownership rates to fabric softener sales, but there's one important traditional industry they're enthusiastic about: the U.S. Postal Service. According to CityLab, a new USPS report [PDF] finds that young people's appreciation for snail mail could help boost the often-struggling agency's fortunes in the future.

Probing for insights into the minds of young people ages 18 to 34 (a little off from the Pew Research Center's definition of Millennials as being people ages 22 to 37), the USPS conducted surveys and hosted live chats online to figure out what Millennials think of the agency, and how the Postal Service can ignite their love of snail mail.

That's vital, because as it is, technological innovations like email and online bill payments are putting the USPS out of business. It lost money for the 11th year in a row in 2017, and while shipping packages is getting more popular (thank you, online shopping habits), it hasn't been enough to offset the decline of mail during that year—mail rates declined by 50 billion pieces in 2017. Young people ages 18 to 34 received an average of 17 pieces of mail each week in 2001, while they only receive 10 now.

But Millennials, it turns out, love mail, even if they don't want to pay their bills with it. As the report observes, "many Millennials still delight in receiving personalized notes or cards around holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions." Three-quarters of respondents said that getting personalized mail from friends and family "makes them feel special." According to the report, around 80 percent of Millennials say they're satisfied with the USPS, around the same rate as older, stamp-loving generations. More Millennials than Boomers, meanwhile, have a USPS.com account, and 59 percent say that the USPS is an innovative organization.

Millennials mentioned several ideas for USPS improvements that already basically exist, like self-service kiosks, at-home package pickup, and Informed Delivery emails, meaning the Postal Service isn't always the best at getting the word out about the cool things it already does. The report also shows that the Postal Service is still working on an augmented reality service that could give you a look at what's inside a package before you open it. (The idea debuted in 2016, but the app was largely limited to showing animated messages.)

The surveys and discussions did come up with a new idea to endear the post office to Millennials: a rewards program. The young people surveyed suggested that members could earn points by buying stamps or mailing packages and use them to redeem discounts or enter contests.

Millennials: They may be ruining vacations, but at least they're ready to save the mail.

[h/t CityLab]