The Stingray Shuffle
One of the first lessons I remember during the first year we moved to FL was going to the beach in the hot summer days and learning I had to do the “Stingray Shuffle” when walking into the water.
You might ask, as I did back then, what the heck is the stingray shuffle? Is that some sort of new dance name? No. Unlike a dance, the stingray shuffle is a real and determined movement to help you avoid stings from a stingray. Most people get stung because they hurry into the water taking big steps. I learned that large steps attract stingrays who live just under the sand in shallow water. They bury themselves under a thin layer of sand and even your natural walking movement entice the stingrays to go into attack mode.
The Stingray Shuffle is simply sliding your feet along the sand instead of taking big steps. These sliding movements feel more like vibrations to a stingray and it scares them off. The idea is to push the sand forward and cause a disturbance that displaces the stingray without you stepping on the ray itself. They tend to travel in groups or schools and are most active between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. so you absolutely must remember to do the shuffle at these times.
Stingray stings are not like a bee, wasp, or jellyfish. Their stings are extremely painful and require immediate care. Here are some of the things I learned when I looked up the Stingray Shuffle and what could happen if you don't do the shuffle!
The pain from a stingray sting is severe and feels like sharp, radiating pain. Almost all stings occur on the top of the foot. Their stings are full of venom. You can tell a stingray sting if there is a small V-shaped cut on your ankle or the top of your foot. The barb of a stingray is much larger than that of a jellyfish.
While it's best to notify the lifeguard on duty and seek an emergency care location, here are a few ideas you can do while awaiting treatment. First, elevate your foot and apply pressure directly on the area with a towel or cloth. Use peroxide, soap, and water to clean the area once bleeding has stopped. Clinics and doctors who work in them say hot, almost boiling water will help ease the pain of a stingray sting. Very hot water helps to neutralize the venom and it must be applied to the stung area for at least 30 to 90 minutes. This is a tricky solution, especially for young children. If the water is too hot, their skin can be burned. This is why it's best to know where to find an emergency clinic to ensure the proper care is received.
Some people can have a severe allergic reaction to stingray bites. They may experience nausea, vomiting, and have noticeable redness and swelling around the affected area. In addition, because stingray lacerations are open, it's easy for them to become infected.
If you plan on heading into waters where stingrays have been known to habitat (most beaches in Florida), do an Internet search on "urgent care near me" and setup an emergency plan for action you can implement if stung. Doctors at urgent care clinics will prescribe antibiotics to stop infection. They will also be able to gauge the right temperature of water to soothe the pain as well as prescribe pain killers if needed.
Because the stingray barb can create severe pain, infection or an allergic reaction, the Stingray Shuffle is a great way to avoid an unexpected attack. Living in Florida, I actually do it throughout the year when heading into the sandy beach and water. I’d rather be safe than sorry. I’m hoping this blog helps you to be safe in Florida too!
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Schmidt Family of Companies
41 Chailett Rd.
Rotonda West, FL 33947