Death by stingray is extremely rare, but getting hit with their barb still hurts like hell – which is why you need to learn how to play footsie safely with these sea creatures.
Step 1: Know where stingrays like to hang out – in shallow water along the ocean shoreline and near the mouth of a bayou.
Step 2: Do The Stingray Shuffle. Slide your feet along the ocean floor rather than lifting them; it will prevent you from stepping down hard on a stingray – the most common way of getting stuck by the serrated stinger on its tail. Plus, the movement warns stingrays that you're in the area.
Step 3: Consider wearing water shoes. If you do step on a stingray, your footwear may prevent the barb from penetrating.
Step 4: If you're stepping into murky water from a boat, poke around with a stick before you set down your foot.
TIP: Invest in stingray guards or leggings if you do a lot of wade fishing.
Step 5: If you do get stung and are bleeding, apply pressure to stem the bleeding and seek immediate medical care.
Step 6: If the injury is minor, remove the stinger with tweezers, being careful not to squeeze it further into the skin. Clean the area with soap and water, and plunge it the hottest water you can tolerate for 30 minutes. Or, apply a chemical heat pack. The heat kills the venom that causes the intense pain.
TIP: Test the water with a thermometer before immersing the wounded area so you don't burn yourself. The water shouldn't be above 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 7: Have a doctor clean out the wound to make sure none of the barb remains in your body. Left-behind pieces will cause infection.
FACT: About 1,500 Americans are injured by stingrays every year.