Snake bites are dangerous and the way you treat them can mean the difference between life and death. This does not mean that all snakes are venomous, but you should always take a snake bit seriously. While only 600 snake species out of 3,000 are venomous, it is better to be safe than sorry.
A bite from a venomous snake can progress quickly, causing necrosis of the skin, paralysis of the skeletal muscles, and your respiratory system. This means you might stop breathing in a matter of minutes and not be able to move to get help.
So let’s talk about what you should and should not do when you get bitten by a snake.
Precaution goes a long way. If you live in an area where there are venomous snakes, always be cautious when moving anything in your backyard. Toys, tools, chairs, and other items can be a great place for a snake to hide. They love damp and dark place. If you’re a hiker, be on the lookout for snake holes, and for snakes themselves.
- Wear covered shoes outdoors.
- Avoid going off the path when in forested areas, and especially where there is dense undergrowth.
- Dispose of trash bags outside your house.
- Check under outdoor items carefully, and always assume a snake is under it, if you live in areas prone to snakes.
- And always, carry a kit to treat a snake bite when hiking in areas where there are snakes.
Do’s And Don’ts For Snake Bites
Stay calm and dial 911. If you can’t call, have someone make the call for you, meanwhile lie in a semi-reclined position, keeping the bite below heart level, which prevents venom from migrating to other parts of your body.
Use A Tourniquet
Using a t-shirt, sock, headband, or anything else available, tie a tourniquet about two to four inches above the bite, unless it’s in your neck or above. Don’t tie it so tight that it causes numbness or your skin turns cold. Immobilize the wound with a splint.
Clean The Bite
Stop any bleeding by applying pressure and then clean the bite with soap and water. If you are not in an area where that is available, just water will do, but not running water. Just dab with the water with a rag. Bandage the wound with anything available, including a t-shirt or sock.
Get Medical Health
If there is no discoloration or swelling within five minutes, then the bite is most likely not venomous. Still seek medical help though, because some bites may take hours for swelling and discoloration to appear and the bite may still be venomous.
All Snake Bites Are An Emergency
All snake bites should be treated as an emergency. You should be taken to the closest hospital for evaluation, where a professional can determine if you have been bitten by a venomous snake.
- Do not apply ice to the bite. It may hinder circulation.
- Do not suck the venom out with your mouth. Contrary to what you’ve seen in movies, this can actually expose you to the venom, or you might get a bad infection from the bite itself.
- Do not try to cut the bite out.
- Do not try to determine if the snake bite is from a venomous snake or not, based on what the snake looks like. Even professionals have a hard time making this determination from just looking at the snake.
Signs Your Bite Is From A Venomous Snake
- Rapid Heart beat
- Breathing Difficulty
- Skin Discoloration
- Intense Pain
Even if these signs do not appear, do not wait to seek medical help.
Treatment For Snake Bites
If you’ve been bitten by a venomous snake a medical professional will inject an anti-venom that is made up of equine antibodies. That’s antibodies from a horse. A skin test will be administered first to determine if you are allergic to the anti-venom.
If you have not been bitten by a venomous snake, a medical professional still needs to evaluate you for complications. These can range from infection to snake teeth remaining in your flesh. Most likely you will need stitches and a tetanus shot.
Getting bitten by a snake can take you by surprise and can be very painful. When in areas where there are snakes, take every precaution to avoid them, and always assume there might be a snake in heavily dense forested areas.
- Precaution is the best way to avoid snake bites
- If bitten, never try to handle the snake
- Do not try to determine if the snake bite is venomous
- Always treat snakes bites as an emergency and get medical help
- Stay calm
- Tie a tourniquet above the bite, about 2 to 4 inches.
- Lie semi-inclined.
- Clean wound.
- Bandage wound
- Get to an emergency room right away.