Lifeguards, doctors suggest being on alert for jellyfish in the Grand Strand

Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 6:41 PM EDT
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SURFSIDE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - For the past week, some lifeguards across the Grand Strand have already seen a large number of people being stung by jellyfish.

“We’ve been experiencing a high number of roughly 20 to 30 per lifeguard,” said Lane Cox a supervisor for Beach Services in Surfside Beach

As a result, purple flags now fly on some area beaches as a warning for people to be aware that there is a marine hazard in the ocean. Most of the time, it is because of the amount of jellyfish in the area.

Experts say August is usually the peak for jellyfish like the East Coast Box Jellyfish and Atlantic Sea Nettles to migrate from the Gulf of Mexico to the East Coast.

Cox recommends tourists and residents take precautions when going to the ocean.

“We usually have a bad week or two every single year down here. We advise you to swim with caution know that they are out there and that you eventually might get stung if you get in the water,” he said.

If there aren’t any lifeguards nearby, you can actually take care of your stung yourself. There are a few steps you need to follow when being stung by a jellyfish:

  • First, remove the tentacles. Use an object like a credit card to scrape off what is left of those small tentacle particles.
  • Put a hot water and vinegar mixture on the affected area.
  • If the pain gets too severe, go to your nearest hospital.

“You can seek physician and emergency attention if it’s large, is extremely painful, or if it’s a child getting stung. That venom could make a child feel ill. There are rarely serious enough to threaten life unless you have an allergic reaction to jellyfish,” said Dr. Gerald Harmon of Tidelands Health.

Harmon said he has treated severe cases of jellyfish stings in the past - and although he hasn’t seen many of those so far this year, he says they’re actually more common than shark bites.

He also said jellyfish tentacles are powerful enough to sting you even when the animal is dead.

“Is not just in the water. If one of those jellyfish washes out at the beach and you grab it and touch the tentacles, they can still sting you,” said Harmon.

The number of jellyfish migrating is expected to come down in the next few weeks.

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