Ouch.

In case you couldn’t catch the audio over the chatter of the kids, that was Micah at the beach today after being stung by a Portuguese Man o’ War. Poor kid. You can also see it at the tv station’s website. Here’s the story.

It was a great day for the beach. The kids are on spring break, so we planned a beach day with some friends at Cherie Downs Park in Cape Canaveral. The weather was great, around 80 and partly cloudy, breezy. The waves were perfect for the kids–breaking big really far offshore but rolling in at about knee level. We were having a great time splashing around, the girls jumping over the waves as they came in, Micah running up to the beach and back down into the water. After we’d been in the water for maybe half an hour, I looked up to see Micah reaching for a pretty purple thing floating on the water: a Portuguese Man o’ War. I screamed at her, “DON’T TOUCH IT, MICAH!” and started running toward her, but too late. She’d been stung.

I grabbed her out of the water and carried her up to the beach where our things (and friends) were. She was screaming by this time. We asked a few people around us if they knew what to do. A woman came up to me and said she’d already called 911; her son had also been stung.

So the woman and her son and Micah and I went up to the parking lot to wait for the EMTs, while my friend Kristina stayed with Ellie and Bethany and her girls on the beach. The EMTs were very kind. One tended to the other boy, who was about 10 I’d guess and had been stung across the stomach. The other took care of Micah. The treatment: vinegar (the EMT told Micah it was salad dressing). He pulled the still-stuck-tentacles out of her leg and poured vinegar on all the stings, which were on both legs, both hands and arms, her chest and her face. She was a little trouper through all of it, though she did say that she never wanted to leave our house ever again. The EMT said he’d seen adults crying more from Man o’ War stings than she did.

Video teams from one two of our local tv stations followed the EMT truck in. They said they were there doing segments on the rip currents and beach hazards, and asked if they could film Micah. When the EMT was done treating her, they asked me a few questions as well. And we made the 5:30 news! When they showed the teaser for it, which was just a shot of some Man ‘o Wars (Men o’ War?) washed up on the beach, Micah cried and hid behind the couch. Poor thing.

Did you know that the toxins from a Man o’ War can be transferred from one person to another? Well, they can. In picking Micah up and carrying her, I also got stung on the chest. I can tell you, it’s not a pleasant experience. I can’t even imagine being covered with it like she is.

She’s doing pretty well now. Most of the stings have faded, although she has a pretty good welt on her leg where she got hit the worst, and some red spots where the other stings were. It hurts her to put tap water on the stings (the EMT warned me that it would), but I’m hoping that by tomorrow that will be better.

I think in the future I’ll keep a bottle of vinegar with our beach things, and always take it with us. Meat tenderizer is also supposed to help–I think I’ll get a bottle of that and toss it in as well. Live and learn, I guess.

Another edit to add: the tv reports keep calling them jellyfish. Man-o-war are not jellyfish, they’re quite different. Follow the link above to some basic info about them.