Outside Summer Survival Guide

Here are a few timely tips to stay safe when exploring nature on Hilton Head Island.

By Anneliza Itkor, Outside Hilton Head

There are few things more glorious than spending a day outside on Hilton Head Island. However, Hilton Head is home to a few small critters that can put a big dent in your summer fun. Here are some simple tips that can help everyone enjoy an adventurous and safe summer.

We are not the only creatures that enjoy our lovely, warm waters and soft, silky sand. Jellyfish and stingrays are abundant in the Atlantic Ocean and in tidal creeks during the summer months. Fortunately, a few easy additions to your beach bag can minimize the discomfort of an unfortunate encounter with one of these creatures.

For a jellyfish sting, bring along a bottle of vinegar. If someone gets stung, rinse the affected area with vinegar for 30 seconds. The high acid content helps to neutralize the venom.

To avoid being punctured by a stingray barb, learn the Hilton Head shuffle! By shuffling your feet through the sand, stingrays can sense your approach and will get out of your way. However, if you are unfortunate enough to step directly on a ray and they employ their barb in defense, it can be very painful.

Packing a small plastic tub (large enough for a foot) and a thermos of hot water can keep the injured person more comfortable, while being driven to the emergency room or Urgent Care facility. Pour the hot water (be careful it isn’t so hot as to scald) in the tub and immerse the punctured foot into the water. The pain will virtually disappear within 30 seconds and, as long as the water stays hot, the pain will be kept at bay until the venom metabolizes. It’s still important to visit the doctor right away, as antibiotics and sometimes a tetanus shot are needed to prevent infection.

When kayaking and paddleboarding our waterways, it’s important to know that the biggest threat in our waters is, ironically, one of the smallest animals. The Lowcountry oysters that populate our waters by the billions present a serious but avoidable danger. Since oysters have no arms, legs, teeth, fins or claws, the leading edge of their shell is their only defense mechanism, and it’s as sharp as a razor.

The good news? Oysters are also immobile, so good common sense will keep you safe. Oysters tend to grow in reefs, or rakes, and can be found in and around the cordgrass or in mounds in shallower waters. At low tide, they are generally easy to spot and avoid. However, in a mid-tide, they can be hidden just below the surface.

It’s smart to talk to locals who know the waters well and learn the safest places to paddleboard and kayak. Don’t paddle board in waters that have oyster beds lurking, and don’t walk barefoot in marsh waters or along the banks of tidal creeks and rivers. Should someone cut themselves on oyster shells, a trip to the doctor is highly recommended, as there is a high risk of infection.

The guides at Outside Hilton Head are well-versed in leading fun and safe adventures in all kinds of Island settings. Visit outsidehiltonhead.com to explore all the exciting ways we can get you Outside!

To book an outing with Outside Hilton Head, call (843) 686-6996 or visit www.outsidehiltonhead.com.