After writing my previous blog on Sea Urchins titled Search’in For Urchin, I promised to write a blog about First Aid for Marine Animal Bites, Stings, and Punctures. But first we need to put up the dreaded DISCLAIMER: By no means is the information here supposed to be considered THE LAW, and is not to take the place of PROPER MEDICAL TREATMENT BY A LICENSED AND CERTIFIED PHYSICIAN, or other Qualified Healthcare Provider. The info here is for informational purposes only!!!!
Whew!!, Now that we got that out of the way lets cover the animals that could give you a bite, sting, or puncture wound! First the BITERS: These would include the Shark, Barracuda, Moray Eels & their cousins, and just for the sake that they do live in the Keys: Alligators & Crocodiles. All of these animals can deliver quite a nasty bite ranging from just a nip to full on Critical Situation!!!
First and foremost get the victim out of the water. Second, keep the victim calm and still. Third, STOP THE BLEEDING with pressure to the wound site with either towels, wetsuits, or any thing that might be in your first aid kit. YES YOU SHOULD PADDLE WITH A FIRST AID KIT! I recommend Adventure Medical Kits, which can be purchased in sizes from Ultralight to You Too Can Do Surgery(Ha Ha Ha)!!
Finally get on a phone or VHF Radio and contact Emergency Medical Services immediately and have them standing by or in route to your location!! Regardless of the wound size you should seek Medical attention because most of these animals have Bacteria that live in their mouth and you will need a strong dose of anti-biotics!!! It would suck to survive the bite only to DIE from infection!! I almost forgot some Eels can deliver a BAD SHOCK to you! The treatment for this is to lie down and elevate your feet for 20-30 minutes or until you feel better!
Now lets discuss the STINGERS; which when stung usually leave a PUNCTURE WOUND: These would include Sea Urchins, Stingrays, Scorpion Fish, Lion Fish, Stone Fish, all which would leave behind a nasty puncture wound and possibly a piece of the spine! OUCH! Now we must also include Jellyfish, Man O’ War Jelly Fish(which is not actually a true Jellyfish- but a group of Zooids: 4 types to be exact.) and last but not least some types of Corals – i.e. Fire Coral! While these would not leave a puncture wound they would still leave behind tiny stinging barbs called Nematocyts. If as the first responder you were to touch the same site the victim had been stung at, you too would NOT BE HAPPY! Also the above mentioned Stone Fish, Scorpion Fish & Lion Fish all carry venom that can be FATAL! ONCE AGAIN SEEK PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL HELP!!
FIRST AID should be as follows for Puncture Wound Type Stings: First, wear gloves to remove any part of the Stinger/Spine left in the wound and rinse with SEAWATER! Second, soak affected site in HOT WATER for 20-30 minutes at 110-114 degrees Fahren- heat breaks down venom and relieves pain!
SEEK IMMEDIATE PROF. MEDICAL ADVICE IF:: Cant remove spine or victim starts to show signs of ALLERGIC REACTION- Diff. Breathing/ Uncontrollable Bleeding/ Body Wide Symptoms.
FIRST AID should be as follows for Nematocysts Type Stings: First, Keep victim quiet and still. Second, where gloves (if possible) and try to gently scrape of tentacles with a credit card or or towel. Third, wash area with SALTWATER- freshwater will make the nematocysts fire more toxin. Fourth, Soak affected area in Hot Water for 30-90 minutes. Also can spray affected area with Vinegar- neutralizes the nematocysts/toxins! There are too many variables to use the URINE TRICK- besides we all get p-s-e- on enough in the world!!!! As mentioned before IF THERE ARE ANY DOUBTS ABOUT VICTIMS CONDITION SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL ATTENTION!
Hope You ALL Enjoy the INFO!! Sea Turtle Sean
I was stung two weeks ago by a sea urchin… i thought i was ok but now i have a dermititis at the sting areas….what do i do now ? I didn’t do any initial tx…is it too late for the hot water or vinegar tx??? please help