What to Do If Bitten by a Snake

Venomous snakes bike more than 8,000 people each year, but the good thing is that there are no more than eight deaths. However, you should not take these statistics too seriously and know what to do if bitten by a snake to improve your chances of survival. Keep in mind that if you do not receive the right anti-venom in time, you may never be able to survive snakebite. Let's find out more about it.

First Aid and Treatments for Snakebites

You need to bear in mind that even if a snake is not venomous, it is still possible to develop a severe allergic reaction after being bitten. Therefore, you need to seek immediate medical attention to treat snakebites, especially if you have little knowledge about snakes. While most snakes in North America are not dangerous to humans, there are exceptions, such as the rattlesnake, water moccasin, coral snake, and copperhead. You should call 911 immediately if a venomous snake has bitten you, especially if the area begins to swell, changes color, or becomes very painful. Here are some steps to take on your own:

  • Do not panic and keep yourself calm.
  • Quickly remove any tight clothing or jewelry because it will be hard to do it if the area starts to swell.
  • Change your position in a way that the bite stays below the level of heart.
  • Do not flush the affected area with water. Simply use a clean, dry dressing.
  • Avoid using tourniquet when you are bitten.
  • Never try to cut or remove the venom.
  • Stay away from alcohol and caffeine because it could increase the rate at which the venom absorbs in your body.

Taking these steps would not treat the bite, but will certainly help you buy some more time until someone arrives and gives you a shot of anti-venom, which in most cases is the only cure available.

What Not to Do When Dealing with Snakebites

Learning what to do if bitten by a snake is important but you should also know what you should avoid if you have been bitten by a snake. Here are a few things to avoid:

  • Never allow the victim to physically exert himself, as this would increase the flow of blood and may actually increase the speed at which your body absorbs venom. It is even better to help the person find a safe place.
  • Never apply a tourniquet. You may be thinking that you should restrict superficial blood flow to keep the venom from spreading, but that is not a good idea in case of concentrated venom, which can rapidly destroy cells. In this case, it is actually better to let it spread, as it will dilute the toxin.
  • Never apply a cold pack. By applying cold, you will be reducing blood circulation to the area, which is not always a good thing.
  • Never use a suction device. In old times, it was a standard procedure to treat snakebites, but these devices were ineffective. They cannot remove all the toxin and even result in damage to sensitive tissue.
  • Never let the victim drink or eat anything. This also applies to medication, unless a medical expert has recommended it.
  • Never try to remove venom through oral suction. Even if you try, you will not be able to remove any venom, as it may have already spread.
  • Never try to cut across the bite marks. You should avoid it because even if the bite was not from a venomous snake, you may end up developing an infection.

How to Prevent Being Bitten by Snakes

Snakebites can have life-threatening consequences, and even if you survive, the pain can be quite excruciating. Therefore, instead of learning about what to do if bitten by a snake, you should learn how to avoid being bitten in the first place. Here are some measures to take:

  • Any snake can be dangerous, so you should always maintain your distance, even if you think the snake is of small size, is lethargic, or even seems dead already. In case a snake is in your way, maintain a safe distance and go away from there. Most snakes are not aggressive and do not want to waste their venom on you.Give them a chance to leave and they would.  A cut-off head is capable of keeping poisonous activities for quite a few minutes, so you will be risking your safety by playing with it.
  • Consider wearing thick leather boots when out in the wild. You may also consider wearing snake leggings for added protection – you have to strap them over your boots to avoid getting bitten. You may find this gear a bit heavy and hot, but it will keep you safe, especially when hiking at night.
  • Stay away from tall grass. You should find another way to move ahead when there is tall grass in your way. It makes it difficult to tell if there is a snake in your way – you may step on it and leave it with no choice but to bite you. If you really have to move through it, at least use a stick to move the grass away.
  • Do not turn over logs and rocks. These are the favorite hideouts for snakes and you do not want to come face to face with them. If you really have to, be sure to wear thick leather gloves and other protective gear first.
  • Educate yourself about snakes and know which ones are poisonous. Know about which one of those snakes are there in your local area. Educating yourself will help you stay safe. 
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