Monday, July 21, 2008

A Stingingly Good Time

Today’s adventure to the beach was a learning experience.

We were late for various reasons…
Sunscreen always takes longer to apply than one expects
• Some children don’t appreciate the application of sunscreen
• Lessons were needed as to why we don’t wear underwear under our swimwear
• The sandwiches didn’t make themselves for some reason
• Rash guards sometimes take legs and walk away

Once we were there, the kids had fun meeting up with some of the other homeschoolers we’ve met over the past few weeks. They built sandcastles, played in the water, and one even got stung by a jellyfish!

Jensen was getting out of the water while I was assisting a hermit crab into a bucket for the other kids to see (as Jolie was screaming bloody-murder that it was going to get her) when he started crying and grabbing for his ankle. As I walked over, I saw the darn thing, announced its presence, and started the examining process.

I’ve never had to really deal with jellyfish stings. I don’t remember being stung as a child, nor do I remember my sisters being stung, so this was a first. So I racked my brain for possible remedies and came up with nothing, so I improvised.

Not seeing any tentacles attached to his leg, I poured fresh water (mistake - I guess using fresh water will cause the stingers to continue to release their toxin) on his ankle, making him cry even more. Realizing that that wasn’t working, I took him up to the picnic area and looked at it again. The other moms were trying to help, one suggesting that I pee on his foot (old wive's tale)and another handed me an anti-septic from her bag. Well, I wasn’t going to pee on his foot and he wouldn’t let me apply the anti-septic. After about ten minutes he was doing fine and wanted to play on the playground with the other kids. He has a bit of a red mark still on his leg, but he insists that he is fine and is enjoying playing Legos with his brother and sister.

When we got home, I did some research and I believe that he was stung by a Stinging Nettle. According to the Gulf Specimen Marine Lab, located in Panacea, FL, Stinging Nettles are “one of the most common jellyfish of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. The umbrella is pale white with red lines resembling the spokes of a wheel. Fine reddish tentacles trailing from the bell are covered with stinging cells and are instant death to small fish and other creatures that pass by them. Swimmers who come in contact with them experience a painful burning and stinging sensation and inflammation which soon disappears.”

Sources differ in their recommendations for the treatment of jellyfish stings. It looks like vinegar, baking soda and meat tenderizer are all somewhat acceptable options, although there are various methods out there.

I’ll be more prepared next time we head to the beach. A small container of vinegar will probably be one of our new beach staples. I need to work on our get-out-the-door time, the number of bags we bring, and a better way to prevent sand from getting in the van. Any advice would be grately appreciated.

With my kids the ages they are, a 3:1 ratio is not recommended when heading to the beach, especially with not-yet-able-to-fully-swim children. I think I’ll be bringing the other parental unit with me next time…3:2 is a much better ratio.

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