Since my move to Hawaii two months ago, I’ve been learning about island living. Discovering new culinary experiences–sushi and sea asparagus. Gazing across the aqua warm waters, whales surface blow misty spray. Kayakers, snorkelers, and surfers enjoy a liquid playground.
Of course, there are risks when frolicking in nature. A local newspaper article about jellyfish featured useful information for anyone planning a tropical vacation. If you or a member of your party got stung by jellyfish, what would you do?
About Jellyfish: The box jelly and man-o-war jellyfish are the most commonly found species around Hawaii. The box jelly sting is 10,000 more damaging than a bee sting. The venom acts more like snake bite and causes cellular destruction. It is extremely painful. An encounter can cause serious systemic reactions that go far beyond irritating the site of contact.
Encounters are most likely the week after a full moon at dawn and dusk. Experts estimate possibly 10,000 stings a year around the Hawaiian islands.
Do’s and Don’ts of Treatment:
- Don’t douse in cold water. That only spreads the venom and continues cellular damage.
- Don’t use ice packs, alcohol, or spray-on pain relievers like Dermoplast. All will increase the action of stinging cells.
- Immediate immersion in hot water. Action of cell invasion by the venom is halted.
- Flood contact site with vinegar or epsom-salt water to remove tentacles and rinse undischarged venom.
- Emergency workers can start an epsom-salt start IV drip to greatly reduce pain.
How about that episode from Friends? Remember when Rachel is stung by a jellyfish and the guys administer first aid her by urinating on her? Actually, that is a recommended action. The acidic quality of the urine will counteract the venom. If the “delivery system” is immediate, the temperature should be about 98.6F to quell the venom action.
Beach Bag Essentials:
If you don’t want to be like Rachel, adding a small container of vinegar in your beach bag along with the obligatory sunscreen, is probably your best first line of defense after a jellyfish encounter.
Of course, don’t get in the water if there is any activity in the area. Though strangely beautiful, a jellyfish sting will surely ruin a wonderful tropical vacation.
Be smart, be safe. Have a wonderful time in the tropics!
Information provided by MidWeek Newspaper, Honolulu March 11, 2015. Rasa Fournier interview with Dr. Angel Yanagihara, Assistant Research Professor at the University of Hawaii, Manoa