Jellyfish and Stingrays

Jellyfish are sea creatures that have a nearly see-through (transparent) body with long finger-like structures called tentacles. Stinging cells inside the tentacles can hurt you if you come in contact with them. Some stings can cause serious harm.

This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual poison exposure. If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.


Symptoms of jellyfish sting:

  • Breathing difficulty
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Severe pain and swelling
  • Slow heart beat
  • Skin tissue death

Wash are with salt water (ocean water is okay, but make sure you do NOT get sand in the wound). Protect affected area if possible. Soak the area with a solution made of 1/2 vinegar and 1/2 water for about 30 minutes. This helps remove the tentacles. Rinse the area and then re-soak with more 1/2 strength vinegar.

If you’re at the beach and encounter someone who was stung by a jellyfish, chances are no one will have vinegar in their beach cooler. The best thing you can do is get medical help for the victim. Find a lifeguard if one is available. While jellyfish stings are generally not fatal unless the sting is near an organ, the sooner the person gets medical help, the less pain he or she will endure.

Apply a cream containing a pain-killer, an antihistamine, or a corticosteroid.


Stingrays are normally large enough to be seen and, ultimately, avoided at the beach. If your encounter a person who has been stung by a stingray, seek medical help immediately.

As a temporary first aid technique, you can wash the area with salt water. Keep pouring salt water on the area for a few minutes. If rubbing alcohol or vinegar is available, pour it liberally on the area. If the wound is bleeding, apply a dressing and wait for medical help.


We also offer a free certificate of completion. To receive the certificate you must pass a 50-question test with a score of 70 or higher. Check our Basic First Aid Certificate of Completion page for more information.

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