Most beach-goers in Australia swim at non-tropical beaches, and so are most likely to come across the more harmless, non-tropical stinger varieties such as the common bluebottle.
For the most part, bluebottles are just an annoying inconvenience and at the most will give you a fright and leave a nasty itchy rash.
For the average person, getting stung by one will present no harmful danger, however, for the very young, elderly, people allergic to them or in extreme cases, they can present further complications.
To treat a Bluebottle sting:
- Find a place to rest with someone who can watch over you.
- Don’t rub 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.
- Place the stung area in hot water (at a temperature your can comfortably tolerate).
- If the pain is unrelieved by the heat, or if hot water is not available, apply cold packs or wrapped ice.
If the symptoms persist or for stings that cover a particularly large area, or across the throat & face call triple zero.
Heat exhaustion is relatively common with beach-goers over summer, particularly with the young, elderly and people who are using the beach to recover from a hangover!
Strenuous physical activity and a lack of hydration in hot and humid conditions like the beach can overwhelm the body’s ability to cool itself (which requires body fluid to sweat which is then evaporated by cool air circulating across the skin), causing heat-related symptoms such as profuse sweating, weakness, nausea, vomiting, headache, lightheadedness and muscle cramps.
If not treated promptly and properly heat exhaustion can progress into the more life-threatening heat stroke.
To treat heat exhaustion, first recognise the symptoms, then stop the activity and move to a cooler environment to rehydrate with water or sports drinks.
If the symptoms persist or deteriorate call triple zero.
ASSISTING A SWIMMER IN DIFFICULTY
People can get into trouble at any time in the water for a variety of reasons. It might be because they’ve got out of their depth, they’ve been overwhelmed by a wave, taken in too much water or had a medical emergency to name a few.
Drowning is often called the ‘quiet killer’ because victims expend their energy fast while they panic trying to stay above the water and ultimately slip under the water – so it’s not always easy to spot.
Some of the signs that someone is in trouble may include panicked cries for help, waving arms or a ‘ladder-climbing’ action to stay a float.
Before you jump in to try and save someone, first think of your own safety – many would-be rescuers become victims themselves because they’ve got themselves out of their limits and are acting on adrenalin rather than ability.
Whether you’re a strong swimmer or not you should call for help from nearby lifeguards, or at unpatrolled beaches call triple zero, immediately.
Only enter the water if you are extremely comfortable in the conditions.
Here’s some rescue tips you can try without getting into the water:
- Bodyboards and eskies can be used as flotation’s devices to get to the swimmer. Throw them into a rip current to try and float them out to them
- Something as simple as an empty drink bottle with the lid on tight can keep a person a float
- Are there surfers nearby? Get their attention and have them paddle over
- Keep your eyes on the person in the water at all times. If there are more than one of you on the shore, one person should be solely responsible for this
- If you’d like the skills to rescue someone, train to become a lifesaver.
Join an OceanFit Program this summer!
To increase your ocean awareness and confidence, train for an ocean swim or participate in a regular ocean fitness class then check out OceanFit’s range of programs available for kids and adults from entry level to awesome, Australia-wide.