TREATING MARINE INJURIES
If you’re diving or snorkeling in a tropical place, be aware that the marine life you may come in contact with may in some cases sting or cause harm. In most cases, marine injuries are not serious – however, it’s always a good idea to have a first aid plan and to know how to contact emergency services.
Make sure that the diving / snorkeling company you are using, have a good, up to date first aid kit on board. If you’re snorkeling from the beach, bring your own first aid kit unless there is a restaurant or hotel nearby (within walking distance)
Jellyfish stings typically occur accidentally when swimming in the sea by brushing against a jellyfish or part of a tentacle. If this should happen, DO NOT remove tentacles from the skin and DO NOT rinse the affected area with water. Douse the wound with lots of vinegar as this neutralizes the stinging cells and stops them injecting any venom. Hot water (or anything else) will NOT break down any venom. Once the vinegar has been applied for around 1 minute, and the victim is breathing, the tentacles can be removed using SALT / SEA WATER ONLY.
Stingray stings are likely to cause a very painful reaction, and will require medical attention, so call for help immediately. Whilst you are waiting, clean the wound with fresh clean water, remove any small barbs or stingers using tweezers. A larger stinger or impaled object should be left, as removal may cause severe bleeding. DO NOT REMOVE STINGERS FROM CHEST OR ABDOMEN! Some of the toxins may be neutralised by soaking the clean wound in hot fresh water, or using hot wet towels to dress the area. Bind using a large dressing.
Sea urchin injuries can be very painful but are not poisonous. Spines may break off and be left in the skin. Soak the area in hot water for 30 – 90 minutes and repeat this as often as necessary to control pain. Small spines may be removed using tweezers, however most spines are better left to work their way out naturally. It’s extremely rare for surgical removal to be necessary. Scrub and clean the wound with soap and water and constantly flush out with fresh water. Do not close the wound with a bandage.
Antibiotic ointment may be a good idea in order to treat possible infection, and you should check for redness, swelling, pus, or other sign of infection until all signs of the injury have passed. If infection occurs, oral antibiotics should be sought. Ibuprofen may help the pain. Please note, these are simple first aid steps and professional medical treatment must always be sought in case of allergic reaction or a more serious injury.
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- Koh Lanta Information
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