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What does the purple flag mean at Galveston beaches?

The purple flags indicate a potential problem with marine life that could be a hazard for swimmers.

GALVESTON, Texas — As people head to Galveston beaches to cool off from the summer heat, be sure to take note of the warning flags displayed at various locations.

Red and orange flags warn beachgoers of various hazards like rip currents in the surf and issues with water quality, respectively.

However, beachgoers need to take note of the purple flags as well.

What does purple flag at the beach mean?

The purple flags indicate a potential problem with jellyfish, Portuguese man-o-war, stingrays, or other marine life that could be a hazard for swimmers, according to the Galveston Island Beach Patrol.

Purple flags can be used in combination with other flags.

Where are the beach warning flags displayed?

On Galveston Island, informational signs and warning flags are posted each day along Seawall Boulevard at 61st St., 53rd St., 37th St., 29th St., and 10th St.

The beach patrol said, during the summer months, each lifeguard tower flies the appropriate flags for the day.

Beachgoers will also see flags at all Park Board-operated parks, such as East Beach, Stewart Beach, and the West End Pocket Parks when the parks are open.

What are the symptoms of a jellyfish sting?

Symptoms of jellyfish stings include:

  • Burning, prickling, stinging pain
  • Welts or tracks on the skin — a "print" of the tentacles' contact with the skin
  • Itchiness (pruritus)
  • Swelling
  • Throbbing pain that radiates up a leg or an arm

Some jellyfish sting can affect multiple body systems. Symptoms of severe stings include:

  • Stomach pain, nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain or spasms
  • Faintness, dizziness or confusion
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Heart problems

Source: Mayo Clinic

Should you go to the ER for a jellyfish sting?

According to the Mayo Clinic, jellyfish stings generally don’t require a visit to a health care provider. If you do go, your provider will likely be able to diagnose your injury by looking at it. If you are experiencing severe symptoms, see emergency treatment.

How to treat a jellyfish sting

The Mayor Clinic said most jellyfish stings can be treated by:

  • Carefully pluck visible tentacles with fine tweezers.
  • Soak the skin in hot water. Use water that's 110 to 113 F (43 to 45 C). It should feel hot, not scalding. Keep the affected skin immersed or in a hot shower until the pain eases, which might be 20 to 45 minutes.
  • Apply 0.5% to 1% hydrocortisone cream or ointment twice a day to the affected skin.

You should not:

  • Scraping out stingers
  • Rinsing with human urine
  • Rinsing with cold, fresh water
  • Applying meat tenderizer
  • Applying alcohol, ethanol or ammonia
  • Rubbing with a towel
  • Applying pressure bandages

However, if someone is having a severe reaction to a sting, they may require cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), life support or, if the sting is from a box jellyfish, antivenom medication, according to the Mayo Clinic.

A delayed rash or other skin reaction may be treated with oral antihistamines or corticosteroids.

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