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First Aid & Emergencies

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Marine Stings and Scrapes - Prevention

You can limit your risk of being injured by jellyfish, a Portuguese man-of-war, or coral.

  • Be familiar with the marine risks in the area where you plan to swim, snorkel, or dive. If you are traveling, obtain information about the local conditions.
  • Be prepared with first aid supplies that might be needed for a injury.
  • Watch for warning signs that are posted when there is a jellyfish or Portuguese man-of-war invasion.
  • Do not touch jellyfish, Portuguese man-of-wars, or coral.
  • Watch out for jellyfish and Portuguese man-of-wars in the water, particularly when there are strong onshore winds.
  • Stay out of the water when jellyfish and Portuguese man-of-wars are present. Look out for the bluish floats of the Portuguese man-of-war, and avoid the poisonous trailing tentacles.
  • Watch for beached jellyfish and Portuguese man-of-wars. Their tentacles may still sting.
  • Do not rely on clothing or on coating the skin with petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline) to prevent stings. Wear a wet suit to reduce your risk of getting stung. A wet suit is a close-fitting, one- or two-piece suit, usually made of rubber or foam neoprene. Swimmers, snorkelers, divers, kayakers, and other people who spend time in cold water may wear wet suits for warmth and protection.
  • Wear protective shoes when walking on the beach. Avoid stepping on marine life.
  • Avoid swimming or snorkeling in swallow water, where touching or bumping into coral might occur.
  • Wash your swimsuit with detergent and heat-dry after use. This will kill the stinging larvae that cause seabather's eruption.
  • Talk to your doctor about carrying epinephrine if you have had any sort of allergic reaction or severe reaction to a marine sting in the past. Learn how and when to give yourself an epinephrine shot, and have it near you at all times.
  • Consider using a topical jellyfish sting inhibitor lotion, such as Safe Sea.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 14, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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