What the..? If you look it up in your Funk & Wagnals, a “quemadore” is a burn, so why do the beaches in Mexico put up “alertas de quemadores”? Quemadore is the local term for the little blue blobs of pain that occasionally wash up on the shore. They are not technically jellyfish, being a member of the family Physalidae, but their sting is sufficiently painful to lump them all together in a general alert. They are small, clear jelly-like colonies of creatures that glow with a bluish tinge and they have long tentacles filled with stingers. If you brush up against one in the water, the stinging cells, called nematocysts, explode, driving a poisonous barb into your flesh. Depending upon how sensitive you skin is, the pain can be moderate to severe. In any case, you will know it’s time to get out of the water. What do you do then?  The first thing to do is remove the slime from your body. Do it quickly but carefully. The best thing to use is a piece of stiff plastic, like a credit card. Scrape the slime off your arm with a quick, surgical strike. Just in case you have gone swimming without your American Express card, rub a handful of sand on the area and rinse with seawater. Do not use freshwater as the lack of salinity will cause any remaining nematocysts to explode and sting you some more. At this point in time, you probably will be nematocyst free but still in pain. If so, try this. Go to your kitchen and pull out the Lawry’s Meat Tenderizer. Pour yourself a handful and mix in some hand sanitizer (gelled alcohol) until most of the powder is dissolved. Place as a poultice on the affected areas.  The papain in the meat tenderizer will dissolve the proteins in the poison and relieve the pain. These quemadores usually wash up on the beaches after stormy weather so be careful not to step on them or let your dog eat them.  Watch for white warning flags on patrolled beaches warning of their presence.

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