Tourists are advised to be extra careful when swimming or snorkeling in Thai waters due to this being the season of venomous jellyfish, and not to take any risks by entering water where signs have been posted.
Measures are being taken in all of Thailand’s beach resorts to keep swimmers safe. Signs warning of the dangers of jellyfish have been erected and First Aid stations have been set up to deal with any person who might have been stung.
Where possible, nets have been put in place at Thailand’s beaches to protect against jellyfish (it should be noted however that for geographical reasons, not all beaches are able to have these), and tourists are advised to follow the advice of lifeguards or tourism-related operators in the area.
The danger posed by toxic jellyfish should not be underestimated. Jellyfish venom affects the main systems of the body; namely, the cardiovascular system. A sting with enough poison can cause the heart to stop beating in 2-5 minutes, and the skin can be burned or scarred around a wound.
Here is what to do, and what not to do, in the case of a jellyfish sting:
Do’s and Don’ts
- Always keep a look out for jellyfish warning signs that may be posted at a beach.
- Keep looking all around you when in the water and try to swim with a partner. A sting can often immobilize a person making it difficult to swim back to shore alone.
- To help prevent against jellyfish stings when swimming, wear a lycra suit or a long-sleeved shirt and pants that cover all skin surfaces.
- Beware of seemingly dead jellyfish on the beach. If they were recently beached, they can still sting.
- Do not swim if there are warning signs and always make sure of the location of the nearest First Aid center before swimming.
- Do not swim in the sea after rain, at night, or outside of the jellyfish buoys.
First Aid steps for a suspected case of toxic jellyfish
In the case of a sting or accidental contact with a toxic jellyfish, stay calm and try to remember to take these steps:
- Bring the injured person out of the sea to a safe place and immediately call an ambulance (nationwide emergency assistance hotline Tel. 1669). Do not leave the person unattended. Notify any authorities in the area.
- Calm the person down and make him/her remain still to prevent further spread of any toxin and do not rub the wound.
- Pour vinegar continuously over the wound for at least 30 seconds, which will initially help in most cases. Do not use fresh/plain water on the wound, and do not rub sand on the wound. Hotels, beach restaurants, and diving outfits around Thailand have been ordered to keep bottles of vinegar easily accessible as part of their First Aid preparation. *It is a good idea to carry a bottle of vinegar with you.*
- Observe the injured person for 45 minutes and watch for at least one of these signs/symptoms:
- Severe pain on the wound, back, trunk, or head.
- Restlessness or confusion.
- Sweating, chills, nausea, or vomiting.
- Palpitations, chest pain, or chest tightness.
- Breathing difficulty, rapid breathing, or panting.
- Pale face or bluish or purplish discolouration of the hands or feet.
- If the injured person is unconscious, perform CPR before pouring vinegar continuously over the wound for at least 30 seconds. Continue pumping the heart until the injured person improves or the ambulance arrives.
- Do seek medical care if experiencing any ongoing symptoms.
While it is extremely rare for swimmers and divers in Thailand to be stung by jellyfish, we do ask that everyone planning to swim or dive, particularly in the Southern Region of the country, to be aware that there may be jellyfish present.
Several species of jellyfish, mostly harmless, can be found seasonally in Thailand – usually between July to December and November to April. However, Box Jellyfish are sometimes found off the beaches of Ko Lanta and Hat Nopparatthara – Mu Ko Phi Phi National Marine Park off Krabi province, Nam Bo Bay in Phuket province, and often off Hua Hin and Cha-am Beaches in Phetchaburi province, as well as Ko Tao in Chumphon province, Ko Samui, Ko Pha-ngan in Surat Thani province, and Ko Mak and Ko Kut in Trat province. (TAT)