24 How Bad is a Stingray Sting?
Humans spend billions of hours in the water, specifically the ocean. One of everyone’s biggest fear is to be attacked by a shark. Yet in 2016 there were only 4 fatalities resulting from unprovoked shark attacks worldwide and 0 fatalities in the United States. Stingrays, a cousin of the shark, on the other hand, have reeked more havoc in just two days, then sharks have in the past 10 years. Lifeguards have had their hands full supplying string ray kits to the victims.
Background on Sting Rays
Stingrays are found in warmer coastal tropical and subtropical waters throughout the world. They are docile creatures and only attack in self defense. Beachgoers of all ages accidentally step on the stingray partially buried in the sand and the frightened fish flips up its tails and stabs the unaware victim. Contact with the stinger causes local trauma, the cut itself causes pain, the venom causes swelling and muscle cramps. Infection from bacteria or fungi may happen later.
Facts on Deaths and Injuries by String Rays
Only 17 people have ever been killed by stingray since 1890. The most mainstream attack was to Steve Irwin known as a Crocodile Hunter on Discovery Channel in 2006. The barb penetrated his thoracic wall causing massive trauma resulting in his tragic death.
Experts assisted by lifeguard’s statements report there are 1500 sting ray injuries every year in the USA. Southern California already had hundreds of stingray attacks this past weekend alone. Sadly, three people were sent to the hospital, because they were having trouble breathing after being stabbed by the ray’s barbed tails. These stingrays might be small, but their barbs pack a punch.
Number of String Rays in Southern California is Growing
Southern California has been saturated with recent stingray injuries. The lifeguard units from Seal Beach, Huntington Beach, La Jolla and Coronado have been reporting a highly unusual surge of stingray injuries, and a growing number of shark sightings in their areas. Lt. Claude Hannah’s of Huntington Beach Marina Safety says, “There must be hundreds of thousands of stingrays out there.” According to different sources, the unusual numbers of stingrays and sharks in this area is a very strange phenomenon, though they disagree on why they are out there in such huge quantities. Regardless of the reason, it is vital to point out that lifeguards are doing a great job warning people by using signage, and reaching out via social media with warnings of when to stay out of the water.
What to Expect if Stung?
Though most stingray injuries aren’t serious, there is always the potential of a severe allergic reactions. That said, always use discretion when going into the water, and as any good lifeguard will tell you, always shuffle your feet in the sand. Stingrays are hard to spot because they cover themselves with sand. Low tide in the afternoon is the worst time of day to be playing in the shallow water at the beach.
90% of the people that are stung by a string ray are stung on the legs or the foot. The stingray’s barb is whipped into the unsuspecting victim, producing a deep puncture wound. The barb usually breaks off in the wound and infects it. So, it is important to have the injury checked out by a lifeguard immediately after it happens. Sometimes surgery may be required to remove the barb fragments. If you get hit, immediately see a lifeguard and get a sting ray kit. Time is of the essence. The injury is very painful but is seldom life-threatening unless the stinger pierces a vital area. Always follow up with a doctor.
Sting Ray Kits
What can you do if you aren’t in the location of a lifeguard? At Original Watermen, we sell Lifeguard approved Sting Ray Kits that you can carry with you to the beach. Don’t get caught unprepared! Get your foot immediately into hot water before the toxins kick in with full potency. If you don’t catch it in time, you or your child will have 4 to 6 hours of searing pain as the sting runs its course. This can all be avoided by caring stingray kits for each person in your family. And if you don’t have a kit remember to immediately locate the nearest lifeguard or lifeguard station for help.