Summer is almost over, but families still have time to enjoy sun, sand and surf. Boracay and Bali may be too far away, but Beidaihe or Nandaihe are popular weekend trips. However, parents should be on the lookout for one particular danger: jellyfish.
They may look cute in Finding Nemo, but you wouldn’t want to touch the creatures in real life. Despite its adorable appearance, jellyfish can cause great harm with their stings. Summer is breeding season for jellyfish, so they can currently be found in high numbers.
This year, incidences of jellyfish stings have been much higher (Chinese-only link) than any other year. An 8-year-old boy and a 47-year-old woman even lost their lives.
Despite the reports, jellyfish shouldn’t stop families from heading to Beidaihe in northeastern Hebei, which is only 300km from Beijing. Jellyfish stings may be painful, but most of them are not considered emergencies unless complications such as pulmonary edema develop (such as in the two fatal cases mentioned above).
Jellyfish don’t usually people attack voluntarily, but they may react if someone tries to corner or touch them. Only a small proportion of jellyfish are poisonous, but it’s better to stray on the safe side.
One of my friends got a stung after stepping on a dead jellyfish (yes, dead ones sting too) at Beidaihe earlier this month. He said he felt pain, red marks, itching, and instant numbness, but after rinsing out the wound with sea water and vinegar, he was OK to swim again in two hours.
KidsHealth provides a more detailed first aid instruction in case anyone in your family gets zapped by one of the jelly creatures:
If your child is stung:
- Remove him or her from the water.
- Rinse the area with seawater. (Freshwater can prompt the stingers to release more venom.)
- Don’t rub the area, which can make things worse.
- With many types of jellyfish stings, it helps to soak the area of skin with vinegar for 15 to 30 minutes.
- Use a credit card to scrape off the stingers still embedded in the skin. If available, put shaving cream or a paste of seawater and baking soda on the area. Then scrape it off.
- Check in with your doctor to see if pain relievers might help your child feel better.
- Call an ambulance immediately if someone has been stung and exhibits one of the following symptoms: Trouble breathing or swallowing, a swollen tongue or lips or a change in voice, bad pain or a feeling of general unwellness, stings over a large part of the body, a sting is in the eye or mouth.
An official in charge of public beaches of Beidaihe was quoted in China Daily as saying that they had sent people to hunt jellyfish in the morning, since they tend to stray near the beach in cooler weather. There are also signs up to warn people not to touch jellyfish. Nevertheless, you can never be too careful with children around.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons