Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water...



Last summer we went to the beach several times. On one of those trips my daughter Melanie went with us. It was a great day with just one little glitch…

The kids had gone off together playing in the surf. You could tell they were having so much fun. They were laughing and tackling each other. Suddenly Melanie came running out of the ocean and up the beach towards us with a look of panic on her face! She was holding both her hands across her leg and crying. She yelled, “Momma, something stung me!”.

Luckily a beach patrolman was driving down the beach on his four wheeler. We flagged him down and told him what was happening. He looked at her leg and told us rather matter-of-factly that she had been stung by a jellyfish. He told us that at our beach (Surfside/Freeport, Texas), jellyfish are common. He said it was a good idea to keep 3 items in our car whenever we were planning a beach trip. A clean towel (or two), a spray bottle filled with white vinegar and meat tenderizer.

Use the towel to wipe off the stung area. If you use your hand you’ll just end up with stings all over it too. You definitely don’t want that!

Next is the vinegar. It is said to remove the nematocysts. Nematocysts are the tiny stingers that inject the venom into you. Spray the entire area down to remove them. One word of caution about vinegar: In stings from Portuguese Men of War vinegar worsens the pain. A Portuguese Man of War is not jellyfish although they look very similar to them.

The last item is the meat tenderizer. Meat tenderizer contains papain which will ease the discomfort of the sting. Papain is an enzyme that breaks down proteins. Just rub a thin layer over the affected area. Leave it on about 15 minutes. Be sure and rinse it off after the 15 minutes or it could irritate your skin worse.

Without a doubt I will have these items in my car the next time we are going to the beach. I hope we never have to deal with jellyfish stings again, but if we do, I’m going to be prepared!

(Portuguese Man of War)

(Common Jellyfish)

(Sting on my daughter's leg)

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