Ouch! What to do if you are stung by a jellyfish

If you visit South Walton beaches, you may see purple flags flying. South Walton officials say there have been plenty of jellyfish out in recent weeks.
Published: May. 22, 2023 at 6:57 PM CDT
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WALTON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - When swimming in open water like the gulf, you’re often not alone.

Purple flags have been flying in south Walton in recent weeks due to an increase of jellyfish in the area’s waters, as well as the Portuguese Man O’ War.

South Walton Fire District Beach Safety staff told NewsChannel 7 the Portuguese Man O’ War are common during the winter; however it is unpredictable when they will pop up.

They say it’s important for swimmers to be aware of how to handle a sting.

”You can either just take some of our sugar-white sand, hot water, or even some salt water and wash the area off, just get the tentacles off quickly and safely,” South Walton Fire District Beach Safety Director David Vaughan said. “You can use a credit card or some kind of, like, room key card to help scrape them off if you need to. Put as warm water as you can stand on it, immediately. And then once that helps break down the protein-based venom, then you can put ice on it after about 10-15 minutes.”

Vaughan said while purple flags may be flying, it shouldn’t stop beachgoers from getting into the water. He said where there is a concentration of sea creatures, commonly jellyfish, in one area, purple flags are put up across the county.

Vaughan also said for people with severe allergies, such as people who need to carry around an EpiPen, their reaction to a jellyfish sting may be more severe than for people without allergies.