9 Things You Should Do If You’re Bitten by a Snake or Stung by a Jellyfish on Vacation

Vacations are about forgetting what day of the week it is, taking a break, and relaxing. What no one expects on vacation is to be bitten by a snake on a hike or stung by a jellyfish while swimming in the ocean. Learn exactly how to treat a snake bite or a jellyfish sting — it’s not by sucking out the venom (page 4) or urinating on yourself (page 9) — ahead.

Watch out for snakes in these states

A view of Community Lake in Davie, Florida

Watch out if you’re in Florida. | Traiansum/iStock/Getty Images

If you vacation in Florida or Texas, take extra precautions because one in four snake attacks occur in these states, according to a study featured on CBS News. Other states where people are often bit by snakes include Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and West Virginia.

Hint: Wearing these shoes could make you a target for snakes.

Wear the right shoes

Flip Flops Yellow

Flip-flops are not ideal. | 5second/iStock/Getty Images

Prevent snake bites by wearing the right footwear. “One common theme that we see again and again is that children out hiking or playing in tall grass get bitten while wearing flip-flops,” Dr. Joann Schulte, the study’s lead author and a medical epidemiologist, told CBS News.  said. “Wearing the right shoes would help.”

Hint: Use this feature on your phone to help you.

Remember what the snake looks like

Cobra snake

Try to take a picture of the snake if possible. | skynavin/iStock/Getty Images

In the event, you’re bitten by a snake, try to remember what the snake looks like. If possible, take a picture of the snake. This can help with treatment later on, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. It may seem trivial to pull out your phone and take a picture of a snake after you’ve been bitten but it can help determine if the snake is poisonous or not.

Hint: Don’t believe this myth about snake venom.

Don’t suck out the venom

rattlesnakes

You can’t suck out the venom. | Loren Elliot/AFP/Getty Images

“Venom goes deep into the layer between the skin and the muscle and it spreads out right away,” according to Good Housekeeping. Within a minute, the venom spreads. Trying to remove the venom will only cause unnecessary damage and more pain.

Hint: Here’s why it’s extremely important to keep a marker around.

Why you should always carry a permanent marker

Black marker

Draw a circle around the bite. | MichaelJay/iStock/Getty Images

By drawing a circle around the fang marks and jotting down the time, you will be tracking the progression of the venom, according to Good Housekeeping. This can be extremely valuable when doctors are determining how much anti-venom to administer. But don’t stop at circling the site of the bite. Also, circle any swelling and note the time.

Hint: Be prepared for a possible jellyfish sting by keeping this in your beach bag.

Keep vinegar in your beach bag

vinegar

Vinegar can help. | eskaylim/iStock/Getty Images

In the event of a jellyfish sting, vinegar can help. That’s why it’s important to keep a spray bottle of vinegar in your beach bag, according to Kids Health. Vinegar will “rinse away the tentacles and deactivate the stinging cells,” according to the Smithsonian.com.

Hint: What you may find in a makeup bag will help with a jellyfish sting.

Keep tweezers in your beach bag too

Girl pulls the hair from their legs

Remove any visible tentacles. | RobertoDavid/iStock/Getty Images

The Mayo Clinic recommends removing any visible tentacles with tweezers. But only after the infected area has been rinsed with vinegar. Be careful not to scrape the stingers as that can cause more damage.

Hint: Get to a shower or bathtub immediately.

Soak the skin in hot water

brass faucet in bathroom

Use hot, not scalding, water. | pkazmercyk/iStock/Getty Images

The next step is to soak the skin in hot water. The water should be between 110 and 113 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the Mayo Clinic. “If a thermometer isn’t available, test the water on an uninjured person’s hand or elbow — it should feel hot, not scalding.” Keep the skin in the water for anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes.

Hint: Human urine won’t help treat a jellyfish sting.

Don’t pee on yourself

Lions mane jellyfish

Peeing won’t help. | Serajace/iStock/Getty Images

The chemicals in urine change on a daily basis depending on what a person’s eaten and how much water they’ve consumed that day. At best, “pee will act as a neutral solution that just moves the tentacles around,” Christie Wilcox, a venom scientist at the University of Hawai‘i and co-author of two studies how to treat jellyfish stings, told Smithsonian.com. Urine “can cause massive stinging.”

Hint: Don’t use this common first aid technique.

Forget ice

Ice cubes

Ice might make the sting worse. | PhonlamaiPhoto/iStock/Getty Images

Go against traditional first aid techniques with jellyfish stings. Don’t apply ice to a jellyfish sting. Ice may make the sting worse, according to Wilcox. “Cold preserves the venom that’s already been injected,” she said. Heat has the opposite effect on the sting.

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Read more: Need a Break? These Are the Best Adults-Only Vacation Spots