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I'll bring you in, I'm very strong.

If you see flags, move right along.

I ebb and flow, and don't you know?

when high winds blow, with me you'll go.

Hint:

This may not be the lateral thinking you were expecting...

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Are you

a tsunami/waves/riptides?

I'll bring you in, I'm very strong.

Waves/tsunamis/riptides can come in and tsunamis are very powerful (waves can be too).

If you see flags, move right along.

Flags on the beach act as warnings indicating it's unsafe to be on the beach at certain times (ie. if you see a danger: tsunami flag incoming, you should move right along and not be on the beach).

I ebb and flow, and don't you know?

Tsunamis/waves/riptides can ebb and flow.

when high winds blow, with me you'll go.

Tsunamis/waves/riptides can be accompanied by high winds, they sweep things in their path away with them wherever they travel.

The title

means you need to travel laterally to the waves in order to survive giant waves crashing into a boat...? (or that tsunamis only occur at certain latitudes...?)

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  • $\begingroup$ This is SUPER close, but to get all the clues right, you'll have to alter a bit! $\endgroup$ – elarr Jul 31 '18 at 18:04
  • $\begingroup$ Riptides it is - to escape a riptide, you have to swim laterally to the pull. Good work! $\endgroup$ – elarr Jul 31 '18 at 18:11
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You are

Riptides

I'll bring you in, I'm very strong.

Riptides are strong currents that drag you into the ocean

If you see flags, move right along.

The beach will be marked with red flags if riptides are bad; stay out of the water

I ebb and flow, and don't you know?

Riptides can ebb and flow

when high winds blow, with me you'll go.

Riptides are more likely when seas are stormy, hence the high winds

Title:

Swim laterally to escape a riptide! means

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  • $\begingroup$ You are correct - I have to give the "accept" to @El-Guest since because all of the clues were answered, but I'll give you the +1 as well! $\endgroup$ – elarr Jul 31 '18 at 18:12
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It seems that you are a

Sail

I'll bring you in, I'm very strong.

Sails catch the wind, blowing boats in. They have to be strong enough to withstand storms

If you see flags, move right along.

This is an indication of bouyes in water. If they have flags, they indicate what part of the water you can boat in.

I ebb and flow, and don't you know?

when high winds blow, with me you'll go.

Sails catch the wind

Hint:

This may not be the lateral thinking you were expecting... Lateral, as in latitudes and longitudes.

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  • $\begingroup$ This isn't what I was thinking, but good interpretation! Keep trying - you're not going in an overly wrong direction. $\endgroup$ – elarr Jul 31 '18 at 18:03

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