Our beautiful Hanauma Bay in Hawaii Kai has been closed recently - which is not an uncommon yearly event - because of the box jellyfish visitation. They stay about 4 days, and were reported to be 100 strong by the 2nd day, Feb. 9.
Jellyfish stings are serious, and the creatures don't just show up in Hanauma Bay, but at various times, in waters around Oahu. Few box jellyfish stings in Hawaii cause life-threatening reactions, but this is always a possibility. Some people are extremely sensitive to the venom; a few have allergic reactions. Consider even the slightest breathing difficulty, or altered level of consciousness, a medical emergency. Call for help and use an automatic epinephrine injector if available.
From All Stings Considered, by Craig Thomas, MD and Susan Scott, here is a primer on treating jellyfish stings, if you swim to closely to one:
"Two concepts are key to treating box jellyfish stings. One is to prevent firing of any undischarged nematocysts remaining on the skin, thus preventing the injury from getting worse. The second is to treat the symptoms and pain caused by already-fired nematocysts. The following first aid treatment, based on current Australian research, is recommended for the stings of all species of box jellyfish:
*Immediately flood the area with household vinegar to keep undischarged nematocysts from firing. This does not relieve pain, but prevents additional stings.
*Never rub the area with sand or anything else.
*Irrigate exposed eyes with copious amounts of room temperature tap water for at least 15 minutes. If vision blurs, or the eyes continue to tear, hurt, swell, or are light sensitive after irrigating, see a doctor.
*Pluck off any vinegar-soaked tentacles with a stick or other tool.
*If the victim has shortness of breath, weakness, muscle cramps, palpitations or any other generalized symptoms, take them to an emergency room.
*For pain relief, apply ice packs. If pain becomes unbearable, go to an emergency room. No studies support applying heat to box jellyfish stings.
"Contradictory studies exist on the effectiveness of meat tenderizer, baking soda, papaya, or commercial sprays (containing aluminum sulfate and detergents) on nematocyst stings. These substances may cause further damage. Some kinds of meat tenderizer, for instance, can cause skin peeling. In one U.S. fatality from the box jellyfish, Chiropsalmus quadrumanus, rescuers placed meat tenderizer almost immediately on the affected arm. The child was soon comatose and later died.
"Alcohol and human urine are common nematocyst remedies, but both can be harmful. An Australian study reports that both alcohol and urine caused massive discharge of box jellyfish nematocysts.
"Most Hawaii box jellyfish stings disappear by themselves. Because of this, even harmful therapies can appear to work. A key concept in the first aid of any injury is: Do no harm. Therefore, avoid applying unproven, possibly harmful substances to stings.
"Occasionally, nematocyst toxins cause lymph nodes near a sting site to swell. If a red streak develops between the two areas, or if either area becomes red, warm and tender, see a doctor immediately!"
Enjoy our water resources, but share and be careful. Hawaii Kai is built around a water lifestyle. Contact me to find waterfront homes at great prices, and learn about our waterfront communities at my web site.