Straight, No Chaser: Stop, The Life You Save May Be Your Own – Snake Bites

snakes-on-a-plane

So you’ve been snake bitten.  What will you do next?

First things first.  Stay calm.  Call 911.  Realize that most snake bites are non-venomous (A really quick tip regarding the likelihood of a venomous snake: most have triangular heads.).  Here’s 10 additional steps to take while waiting for your help to arrive.

5 Things To Do

  1. Protect yourself.  Get out of the snake’s striking distance.  It should be trying to get away from you as well.
  2. Lie down.  Keep the wound below the level of the heart.
  3. Be still.  Activity simply facilitates spreading of any venom present.
  4. Cover the wound with a loose, clean dressing.  Immobilize the extremity if possible.
  5. Remove all restrictive clothing and jewelry from the area, because the area will swell.

5 Things Not to Do

  1. Try to suck out venom.
  2. Try to cut out the area bitten.
  3. Apply any constrictive dressings.
  4. Apply any cold or ice packs to the wound site.
  5. Run to help.

If you’re lucky enough to have a snake bite kit, you’ll simply follow those instructions, which are a modified version of the instructions I’ve just given.

You will need to be seen by a health care provider for consideration of the following:

  • Anti-venom may be needed.
  • Tetanus immunization may be needed.
  • Appropriate wound cleaning will be needed.
  • Antibiotics for skin infection may be needed.

Let me know if you have any questions.

3 Comments

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3 responses to “Straight, No Chaser: Stop, The Life You Save May Be Your Own – Snake Bites

  1. Darla

    It seems the tips are for the ideal situation. How would you manage a bite if you are out in the woods and totally unprepared? If you are alone when the the occurs, how long should you lie still, before trying to get to help?

  2. Hi, Darla. That’s a fair point. Being ‘totally unprepared’ these days isn’t the same as it used to be. Hopefully, no one’s taking camping or hiking trips without doing a bit of prep work first. The simplest tricks include having an operating phone to call 911 immediately and being able to stay calm. Once you’ve received a bite, either it’s venomous or it’s not. Either you’ll need and get to anti-venom or not. Bite wounds tend to localize and set in about 20 minutes. Use that time to keep the affected extremity lower than the level of your heart, and given that many injuries occur by stepping or reaching on or near a snake, get any jewelry or other restrictive items off. There’s no magic other than anti-venom except doing that preventative prep work before hand. If I’m going hiking or camping, I’m taking a snake bite kit.

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