Tower Talk is a series of articles designed to impart information or talk story about life in the water rescue professional community. Today’s topic is jellyfish and how you can best spread awareness about their current population density and the hazards they present.
Most oceanfront beaches have jellyfish present to one degree or another during the year, and you should be aware of any venomous jellies that have been spotted recently. Portuguese Man-O-Wars and Box jellyfish present the greatest danger to swimmers, but beachgoers can be stung along the high tide line by stranded jellies. Stings from can result in paralysis and/or death in a very short period of time. Hazards this dangerous must be monitored with vigilance but it is also important to educate patrons as well. It is easier to prevent a sting than to treat one.
Get to know this hazard for yourself, be a professional and dedicate time each week to personal development. Utilize resources like this to learn about bloom patterns so that you can get out in front to educate the population. Keep anti-venom on hand specific to your local threat, and make sure all members of the response team know how to administer it. You never know when you will take a sting providing assistance, it could save your life if the beach aid knows what to do in a pinch even if they are not a certified lifeguard.
Work with all beach staff to warn of blooms when they arrive on your shores to limit the number of stings. You can also post signage, add patrols to your rotation passing the word along the beach, and make regular announcements over the PA. Elderly populations and children are particularly vulnerable to these potent venoms. Better to annoy the public with knowledge then suffer a casualty.
One final thought. Dogs are particularly vulnerable to being stung while investigating the strange quivering blob on the beach. My advice is to keep them off the beach completely.