St. George Island Florida
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Beach Safety

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Beach Safety/Marine Animals

Jellyfish:
Beachgoers should always be aware of the various marine animals that inhabit the beach as well as the water. With more than 200 documented species, jellyfish are among the most common of these inhabitants.  Jellyfish stings are accidental and unanticipated, usually occurring by swimming or walking into tentacles. In the event that beachgoers are stung by a jellyfish, the following steps should be taken: 

  • Flush the infected area with sea water or with vinegar, if available. Do not rinse the infected area with fresh water, this will only increase the pain and/or cause the tentacles to release additional venom.
  • Remove the jellyfish tentacles with a pair of tweezers. Do not attempt to remove the tentacles without wearing gloves.
  • Apply shaving cream to the affected area and shave away any remaining tentacles. Then, reapply vinegar in order to neutralize the venom.
  • Take an ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) or an acetaminophen (Tylenol) to lessen the pain. 
  • Watch for allergic reactions—dial 911 or go to an emergency room if the victim suffers from one.

Stingrays:
In addition to jellyfish, beachgoers should be aware of stingrays. These marine animals are often camouflaged beneath the sand in shallow areas of the water, making it difficult for swimmers to spot one. In order to avoid being injured by a stingray, beachgoers are encouraged to shuffle their feet while wading around the water. If someone does sustain a stingray injury, please follow these steps: 

  • Seek medical attention by either calling 911 or going to an emergency room. The victim will be in a significant amount of pain and will need to see a doctor.
  • Stop the bleeding with a clean cloth and cleanse the wound with soap and fresh water.
  • Do not attempt to remove the stingers. Only remove the stinger if immediate medical attention is not available. If the stinger is impaled in the chest or abdomen, DO NOT REMOVE.
  • Take an ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) or an acetaminophen (Tylenol) to lessen the pain. 

Sea Turtles:
Beginning in May, female sea turtles come ashore on Franklin County beach to nest and lay eggs.  Afterwards, the sea turtle returns to the ocean and leaves the eggs behind.  Two months later, the hatchlings begin to emerge and attempt to make their way back to the Gulf—a process that lasts until October and occurs during the night. Sea turtles are nearing extinction, thus it is important to take all the necessary precautions to protect the hatchlings. Here are some ways visitors can help:

  • Turn off outdoor lights at night. Instead of following the moonlight towards the Gulf, the hatchlings become disoriented and follow the path towards the artificial lighting.
  • After a day at the beach, visitors are reminded to take all of their belongings with them—beach chairs, umbrellas, kayaks, tents, fishing gear, coolers, jets skis, rafts and beach toys—anything that would obstruct the hatchlings path back to the Gulf.
  • Please throw away any garbage!  Sea turtles mistake trash as food, which ultimately kills them.
  • Do not disturb the sea turtle, her hatchlings or their nests. 

Remember only a very small number of the hatchlings make it back to the Gulf, and an even smaller amount survive once back in the water (current research statistics indicate that only one hatchling in 5,000 reaches adulthood).  It is important for beachgoers to do all they can to help make the journey back to the water easier for the hatchlings.

Riptides:
Riptides are strong, narrow streams of water flowing away from the shore and can quickly pull objects into their paths. On average, riptides are from 10 to 100 feet wide, and while dangerous, swimmers can easily escape with these safety tips:

  • Do not panic! Swimmers should try to remain calm in order to save energy and swim out of the current.
  • Do not try to swim directly back to shore. It is impossible to swim against the current.
  • Do swim parallel to the shore until safely out of the current’s pull. If swimming becomes too difficult, swimmers should float on their backs until they are beyond the current.
  • Do swim directly back to shore once safely out of the riptide.

Swimmers should remember riptides can occur at any depth, even in knee-deep waters. It is also important for swimmers to always be aware of their surroundings and use caution before entering the Gulf of Mexico. 

Franklin County Swimming Advisories:
One of the many ways we protect and help to ensure the continued safety of our visitors is through the active efforts of our county health department, which monitors Franklin County beach water quality on a weekly basis.   Our visitors may go online at www.floridashealth.com/beachwater for up-to-date information prior to their visit; or look for posted swim advisories during your visit, which are unlikely but possible.

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