When you hit the beach, there are plenty of dangers to avoid. Beyond riptides and cold water shock, jellyfish stings can be a major hazard for swimmers.
How Likely is a Jellyfish Attack?
In the past, we’ve written about shark attacks. When it comes to ocean danger, these creatures quickly come to mind. As it turns out, shark attacks are relatively rare. However, you are much more likely to run into a jellyfish at the beach. While jellyfish stings don’t often make the news, they are absolutely worth worrying about. Throughout the rest of this blog post, we’ll teach you how to avoid trouble with jellyfish and jellyfish stings.
Jellyfish and Jellyfish Stings
These bizarre, blob-like creatures have been present for millions of years. Today, they are still thriving in our waters. Though they may come in many levels, they can always pose a hazard to an unsuspecting swimmer.
Though these creatures may not look very imposing, they are quite capable of defending themselves. You see, a jellyfish protects itself by stinging anything that gets too close to them. These jellyfish stings inject thousands of painful nematocysts in the skin that release a venom into its victim. Some jellyfish stings can be painful or irritating. Others, such as those from a box jellyfish, can be fatal. Even non-lethal jellyfish stings can incapacitate a swimmer, causing a potential drowning situation.
Avoiding Jellyfish Attacks
No matter what, it’s a good idea to stay clear of these sea dwellers whenever possible. When visiting the beach, parents should explain potential water dangers to their kids. This includes showing them what jellyfish look like and telling them to stay far away from them. Jellyfish may look harmless bobbing up and down in the water, but, as we’ve explained, jellyfish stings can be very painful or even fatal.
To that end, the best protection is to only swim in designated areas that are protected by a lifeguard. Pay attention to flags and warning signs that let visitors know about swimming, weather and tide conditions. Additionally, beware of dead jellyfish. Believe it or not, they can still sting an unsuspecting victim!
What to Do if a Jellyfish Stings You
So what happens if, in spite of your best efforts, you are stung by a jellyfish? First, resist the urge to simply scrape any attached stingers off your skin. Instead, head for shore. Before you head to the beach, you should remember to keep two items close at hand: a small bottle of vinegar and some tweezers. The vinegar reacts to the nematocysts, preventing them from injecting venom into your skin. Before anything else, remember: do not rub the affected area or rinse it with water! This can cause the stingers to fire. Instead, it’s time to use your trusty vinegar. First, rinse the area with vinegar. Next, use your tweezers to remove the stingers.
Once the area is clear, it’s time to determine the severity of your jellyfish stings. You should seek immediate medical attention if it seems to be an especially potent attack.
Keep an eye out for these signs:
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
- Intense pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dizziness, muscle spasms or headaches
One fairly obvious caveat depends on the location of the sting. If you have been hit in the eyes or mouth, this attack should be treated as serious. If none of these symptoms are present, but you believe you’ve been attacked by a particularly dangerous jellyfish, you should get immediate help.