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Beach Safety Info

Marine Stingers

For more information on any other matter relating to aquatic safety, contact: Surf Life Saving Australia 02.9300.4000 or Surf Life Saving NSW (02) 9984 7188 or Surf Life Saving QLD (07) 3846 8000 or Life Saving Victoria (03) 9676 6900 or Surf Life Saving SA (08) 8354 6900 or Surf Life Saving WA (08) 9243 9444 or Surf Life Saving TAS (03) 6223 5555 or Surf Life Saving NT (08) 8985 6588 or ... or contact your local  surf life saving club.

Australia’s waters contain many sea creatures, including marine stingers.
Although they are generally quite easy to avoid, stingers can cause discomfort if you are stung and some tropical species (the Irukandji and the Box Jellyfish, for example) can be lethal. So, to ensure you enjoy your day at the beach, always remember to swim at a patrolled beach and look out for the safety signs.

If you are stung, or are with someone else who has been stung, the treatment will vary depending on
where you are, and what type of stinger is involved.

In tropical waters:
Generally north of Bundaberg in Queensland and Geraldton in Western Australia. Jellyfish capable of causing life-threatening stings primarily occur along the tropical coastline of Australia from Bundaberg in Queensland northwards, across the northern coastline and down to Geraldton in Western Australia. In areas where dangerous tropical jellyfish are prevalent, (e.g. Box Jellyfish or Irukandji), if the species causing the sting cannot be clearly identified it is safer, to treat the victim with vinegar. It is recommended that a full-body lycra suit, or equivalent, be worn to provide a good measure of protection against marine stings, particularly during the stinger season, which generally runs from November to March.

For tropical jellyfish stings:
· Remove the patient from the water and restrain if necessary
· Call for help (dial 000 or get a surf lifesaver or lifeguard to help you)
· Assess the patient and commence CPR as necessary
· Liberally douse the stung area with vinegar to neutralise invisible stinging cells
– do not wash with fresh water
· If vinegar is unavailable, pick off any remnants of the tentacles (this is not
harmful to the rescuer) and rinse sting well with seawater (not freshwater)
· Seek medical assistance with rapid transport to hospital

If local pain is unrelieved by these treatments, or generalised pain develops, or the sting area is large (half of a limb or more), or if the patient appears to be suffering an allergic reaction to the sting, seek urgent medical help (dial 000 or get a surf lifesaver or lifeguard)

In non-tropical waters:
Generally south of both Bundaberg in Queensland and Geraldton in Western Australia
· Keep the victim at rest and under constant observation
· Do not allow rubbing of the sting area
· Pick off any remaining tentacles with fingers (a harmless prickling may be felt)
· Rinse the stung area well with seawater to remove any invisible stinging cells
The next steps are dependent on what type of stinger is involved.

For non-tropical Bluebottle stings:
· Place the victim’s stung area in hot water (no hotter than the rescuer can comfortably tolerate)
· If the pain is unrelieved by the heat, or if hot water is not available, apply cold packs or wrapped ice

For OTHER non-tropical MINOR JELY FISH stings:
· Do not wash the sting with fresh water
· Apply cold packs or wrapped ice for pain

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