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How to avoid a jellyfish sting ruining a day at the beach!

Jellyfish sting – the two words you definitely DON’T want to hear during a family trip to the beach! We discuss some hints and tips to avoid letting the sting ruin your whole day.

Jellyfish sting! Jellyfish sting!

Picture it. Calm ocean. Your kids having the time of their lives in the peaceful surf. The sun is shining, the sand is warm and your family’s smiles can be seen for miles. Everyone’s playing together and enjoying themselves harmoniously and life just couldn’t get any better. Suddenly, a scream! Someone’s gotten stung by a jellyfish! What do you do?!

What do we do?

Let’s get this one out of the way first. We’ve all heard the story about peeing on a jellyfish sting to fix it. Before you break any public urination laws, however, get the attention of the lifeguards first and foremost. They’ll have easy access to call emergency services if required and they’ll also have first aid kits with them.

The ‘do a wee’ method can be replaced by the application of a vinegar soaked pad to the impacted area. This will be held in place for a minimum of 30 seconds. While the victim may not initially be in a lot of pain, a jellyfish sting will become more painful over time so having the experts on the ground early is the best port of call.

Make sure that the area is not rubbed, that the person who became stung is kept calm (restlessness and anxiety can be a co-morbid symptom of a jellyfish sting) and that they have plenty of room to breathe.

Jellyfish sting box jelly

Which jellyfish stings are the most dangerous?

The box jellyfish is deadly – be conscious of warning signs and completely avoid the area if they’ve been spotted. The victim will become immediately impacted by severe pain, behave irrationally, have a rapid pulse and show signs of a frosted pattern of sting marks. The only course of action for a box jellyfish sting is liberal quantities of vinegar for a minimum of 30 seconds, a dry cold compress and rescue breaths if required while waiting for the ambulance.

The Irukandji jellyfish sting are not as deadly but still extremely serious. Here you’ll see an increasing level of pain over time, shooting pains, lower back pain, anxiety and potential collapse. The same care instructions apply as per the box jellyfish.

Are there other types of jellyfish?

There is a huge variety of jellyfish and stingers, as with any sea creature, but most of them are nowhere as deadly as the two listed above. However, the victim of a sting may have an allergic response so it’s always best to call for lifeguards and emergency services rather than take a risk.

Don’t let a jellyfish sting your whole day!

Australian beaches are the most beautiful in the world but we pay a price when it comes to sea-life encounters! Know the warning signs, look out for each other and do the right thing if an emergency occurs.

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Janine Mergler

Janine Mergler is a veteran Queensland teacher, graduating from QUT with a BEd majoring in Social Sciences. After many years in the classroom, Janine moved on to academia. She has proudly trained new generations of teachers in her role as a lecturer at Queensland University of Technology Faculty of Education. She has also worked in the Queensland Government as an education specialist, developing education resources and delivering community awareness programs to help families conserve water. Currently she is the owner and editor of Families Magazine, a publication specifically targeted at parents who value a quality education for children.  Janine leads a team of professionals who write about family lifestyle, early childhood, schools and education information and family-friendly events.

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