How to prevent and treat stingray stings at the beach

VIDEO: How to prevent and treat stingray stings at the beach

ISLE OF PALMS, SC (WCSC) - Warm water temperatures are leading to more stingrays seen close to shore. So far this year seven
people on the Isle of palms have been stung. Three of them happened this week.

"I remembered it felt like I stepped on a shell almost and a claw came up, but I stepped on the stingrays head and the tail came up and hit me right on the top of my foot," says Devin Sapienza. 

Sepienza was stung by a sting ray about a year ago at another beach.

"Right away I thought shark because you feel something in the water that hurts you, you think a shark right away so we were freaking out," says Sapienza.

Isle of Palms (IOP) park officials say one way to decrease your risk of getting stung is by doing the stingray shuffle. This is done by sliding your feet in the water instead of picking them up when you walk.

"Stingrays rest on the bottom of the ocean and they sting folks when you step on them," says IOP County Park Manager Cynthia Wilson. "That's their defense mechanism. So the best thing to do is warn them that you're coming just by shuffling your feet so they
know you're coming and they swim away."

"We saw something big in the water and we said 'oh my gosh it's a stingray' and we started swimming away," says beachgoer Kaleb Newman. 

Newman was able to get away from the stingray he saw. If you do get stung, applying heat will help ease the pain.

"So we'll submerge typically the foot and hot water and that gives immediate relief," says Wilson.

Placing hot sand on the wound can help decrease the pain too. Recently, Fisherman have been catching stingrays from the boardwalks on the beach. 

"One of the things we ask fisherman not to do is not cut their tails off," say Wilson.

Fisherman can clip the barb, the part the stingrays use to sting, before releasing them back in the water. If anyone is stung by a stingray experts say they should see a doctor because it can cause an infection.