Did you cover all the bases when it comes to beach safety? Well, mostly. While jellyfish stings don't happen all the time, it can't hurt to be prepared just in case.
- Know how to ID harmful types. Most of the types are harmless. Ask the locals or learn how to identify species with harmful stings.
- Understand how they move. Jellyfish can push themselves up and down, but can't control their side-to-side movement. They drift on waves and currents instead. Knowing this may help keep you out of harm's way if you spot one.
- Don't touch beached jellyfish. They may look lifeless on the sand, but stingers can still cause harm if handled.
- Rinse the tentacles off with salt water. Do not use fresh water, it will worsen the stinging pain.
- Remove any remaining tentacles with a gloved hand, a towel, or a hard object like credit cards.
- Use vinegar (acetic acid) to neutralize the toxin.
- Restrict movement of the affected area for a while.
- Ibuprofen and acetaminophen will help relieve pain. Ice or heat may also help. Mild itching may be helped with diphenhydramine.
Watch for anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction). If you're stung by a jellyfish that is known to be harmful, get out of the water and seek emergency care right away. Stings to the mouth, eyes or large areas of skin from any jellyfish will also require care in the emergency room. Urgent medical attention is needed for any sting that causes serious pain or swelling.
- The beach patrol or lifeguards may post warnings when there is a danger to swimmers. Always pay attention to these warnings.
- Urine will not work on a jellyfish sting. Some victims have reported pain relief, but urine does not always have enough acid to neutralize the venom. Use vinegar.
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