Multiple Deaths In The Region Attributed To Swimming In Dangerous Conditions
Cancun’s local government is urging visitors to acknowledge the flag warnings displayed on its beaches after a number of tragic deaths. Many of the incidents have involved swimmers entering the water under a red flag.
The state has seen a regular occurrence of drowning-related deaths since the beginning of the year with multiple deaths occurring on individual days on several occasions. The most recent double death happened last Thursday, during Cancun’s busy Easter week.
To help fight the problem, the government listed a number of measures for visitors to follow. They recommend that swimmers avoid going beyond twenty-five meters away from the shoreline. If a swimmer experiences cramp or muscle fatigue, getting back to the shore may become extremely difficult, especially in unfavorable weather.
They also pleaded with tourists to avoid swimming outside the designated hours set by the lifeguards. The lifeguards in the region only function from 9 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon. If a visitor chooses to swim outside of these hours, they are doing so without the presence of lifeguards and are completely at the mercy of the ocean and their own swimming abilities.
The past week has seen some extremely dangerous conditions for bathers that are continually ignored. Understandably, the vacationers don’t want to miss their limited time in the water, but with winds hitting as high as 40 kilometers per hour in the past few days, entering is a genuine risk to their lives.
To put the danger in context, as many swimmers were entering the water last week, there were several smaller fishing boats that were barred from leaving port as the conditions were unsafe for them to sail. The Mexican navy is continually being forced to postpone plans to install sargassum barriers because of the conditions yet swimmers are still putting their lives at risk.
One tragic incident last Thursday saw one man lose his life, but the reality of the situation was that it could have been much worse. According to reports, as many as ten people were struggling in the water. Videos show other beachgoers attempting to make human chains to drag the struggling swimmers in as the lifeless body of the older man was dragged onto the shore. He was pronounced dead at the scene after resuscitation attempts failed.`
Other well-documented incidents included the death of a Paraguayan tourist whose body was only identified a month later. He had entered the water after the lifeguard’s operational hours and was unable to be saved before he disappeared under the water.
Cancun and the rest of Quintana Roo’s beach safety system use different colored flags to designate whether the current sea conditions are safe for swimmers. A red flag is the most serious and signifies that bathers should not enter the water. The reason for the danger may not be immediately obvious as many would assume only the presence of heavy waves is a danger. In reality, the currents pulling under the water are often far more dangerous and pull unwitting swimmers far out from the shoreline,
Swimmers caught in a current or riptide should do their best not to panic or expend too much energy,, The easiest way to escape a riptide is to swim parallel to the shore or relax and let it take the swimmer further out before it erases up, and then proceed to swim parallel before heading back to the beach.
Any tourists visiting the area should do what they can to heed the warnings and safety information available. The lifeguards in the region are well-trained but there is only so much that can be done when basic safety precautions are not followed.
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