NORTH TOPSAIL BEACH, N.C. (WNCT) --- When you’re at the beach with your family, you could be worried about riptides, jellyfish, and even sharks. But there’s one more threat that’s been giving North Topsail Beach some trouble.
In the past month, North Topsail Beach Fire and Rescue officials said they have received about 40 calls for stingray injuries.
The stingrays are out each summer, mostly at low tide.
“My uncle was actually stung last year," said Krissy Ferris, who was visiting the beach Monday."So we keep a little bit of an eye out."
The injury from a stingray can be very painful, but Onslow County paramedic Zachary Hierl said it’s not usually deadly.
“It’s extremely rare for a stingray sting to be fatal," said said Hierl. "Usually that happens when someone has an anaphylactic response or an allergic reaction to the sting.”
Still, North Topsail Beach Deputy Fire Chief Bill Poe said it’s best to take measures to avoid the rays.
“Wear foot protection when you’re going out there, even just some water shoes," said said Poe. "And then if you are walking out, just slide your feet.”
Shuffling your feet while walking through the ocean helps to scare the rays away.
Stepping down on a ray can cause the barb to get stuck in your foot, and likely leading to a trip to the emergency room.
“It’s very brittle,” said Hierl. “And if you try to remove it yourself, you can leave pieces behind which can cause an infection.”
Ferris said the threat of sting rays will not keep her out of the water.
“Just because there’s so many different things that are in the ocean,” said Ferris. "If that was the case, then I don’t think anybody would be in the ocean.”
But Ferris said she will be watching out for herself and her family.
“You just have to be aware,” said Ferris. "And make sure that your kids know that there are some things out there that they have to be aware of.”
None of the emergency calls for stingrays in North Topsail this year have been fatal.
If you are ever injured on the beach, officials advise that you call for help rather than trying to drive yourself to the hospital.