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]

The ChopBox Smart Cutting Board Has a Food Scale, Timer, and Knife Sharper Built Right Into It


When it comes to furnishing your kitchen with all of the appliances necessary to cook night in and night out, you’ll probably find yourself running out of counter space in a hurry. The ChopBox, which is available on Indiegogo and dubs itself “The World’s First Smart Cutting Board,” looks to fix that by cramming a bunch of kitchen necessities right into one cutting board.

In addition to giving you a knife-resistant bamboo surface to slice and dice on, the ChopBox features a built-in digital scale that weighs up to 6.6 pounds of food, a nine-hour kitchen timer, and two knife sharpeners. It also sports a groove on its surface to catch any liquid runoff that may be produced by the food and has a second pull-out cutting board that doubles as a serving tray.

There’s a 254nm UVC light featured on the board, which the company says “is guaranteed to kill 99.99% of germs and bacteria" after a minute of exposure. If you’re more of a traditionalist when it comes to cleanliness, the ChopBox is completely waterproof (but not dishwasher-safe) so you can wash and scrub to your heart’s content without worry. 

According to the company, a single one-hour charge will give you 30 days of battery life, and can be recharged through a Micro USB port.

The ChopBox reached its $10,000 crowdfunding goal just 10 minutes after launching its campaign, but you can still contribute at different tiers. Once it’s officially released, the ChopBox will retail for $200, but you can get one for $100 if you pledge now. You can purchase the ChopBox on Indiegogo here.

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Mental Floss Is Up for a Webby Award—Here’s How to Help Us Win!

This woman doesn't work for us, but she sure is happy about our Webby Award nomination!
This woman doesn't work for us, but she sure is happy about our Webby Award nomination!
Andrea Piacquadio, Pexels

The writers, editors, videographers, tech whizzes, and everybody else on the Mental Floss team began today like any other: guzzling coffee by the gallon, eager to deliver a blend of zany and informative content straight to the brains of our readers. By mid-morning, our makeshift home offices were buzzing with a heightened, electric energy—because we’d just been nominated for a Webby Award, and we’re really excited about it.

The International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences (IADAS) has included Mental Floss in the “Weird” general website category, which highlights sites “that reflect a fresh perspective in thought and action strong enough to start a revolution, change a behavior pattern, or advance old thinking lodged in bad habits, or that are just plain weird.”

Basically, there are two winners for each category. The Webby Award is chosen by IADAS members like Arianna Huffington, Monica Lewinsky, Darren Aronofsky, and representatives from just about every other industry out there. The IADAS has honored Mental Floss with two Webby Awards in the past; the website won one in 2013 for best cultural blog, and John Green nabbed another in 2015 for being the much-beloved host of our YouTube channel.

The Webby People’s Voice Award, on the other hand, is voted on by the public. So if you think Mental Floss embodies any (or all) of the aforementioned criteria for Best Weird General Website, you can help us win a People’s Voice Award by voting here. We’re up against some steep competition, including Brand Name Pencils, the world’s largest collection of vintage brand-name pencils, and Amazon Dating, a completely fake dating site modeled after Amazon’s homepage.

Voting is open through Thursday, May 7, and the winners will be announced on Tuesday, May 19, before a special online celebration called “Webbys From Home” that’ll showcase some of the internet’s best content from the past year.

You can explore all the nominees and vote in other categories here.