How to Treat a Snake Bite
It’s every hiker’s nightmare: you’re trekking down a sunny path, becoming one with nature, when out of nowhere a snake springs and strikes. What should you do? First, don’t panic; most snake bites don’t end up being fatal. However, whether the snake is venomous or not, it’s important to know how to treat the bite correctly.
Method 1 of 2: Treating a Venomous Snake Bite
1. Call emergency services or get to a hospital. Most snake bites aren’t dangerous, but when you do get bitten by a venomous snake, getting medical care as soon as possible is imperative. Either call paramedics or get to an emergency room right away.
2. Take note of the snake’s appearance. Don’t literally take out a notepad and record details (yet), but it’s important to be able to describe the snake to hospital staff later so the proper antivenom can be administered. Try to make a mental picture of its coloring and the patterns on its body.
- Do this in a split second. Don’t walk toward the snake or spend a lot of time trying to get a better look; you don’t have time for that.
- Have a fellow hiker also take a mental picture to verify what you’ve seen. The stress of getting bitten by a snake could make it difficult to remember details. The friend may also have the chance to take a picture of the snake once the situation has been stabilized.
3. Move away from the snake. You should immediately get out of the snake’s range, so you don’t get bitten a second time. Get to a safe spot a fair distance away from the site where the bite occurred. Do not run away or move too far; however, if your heart starts pumping faster, the venom will spread more quickly through your body.
- Try not to panic as you’re moving away. If you get extremely stressed, your heart will beat faster and spread the venom through your body more quickly.
- Move to a place where the snake is not likely to return. Find a flat boulder a bit above the path, a clearing, or another area without a lot of hiding places for snakes.
4. Be as still as possible. If you’re waiting for help to arrive, lie down on your back and take deep, steady breaths to calm yourself. Don’t move your body more than necessary; you should lie very still, to prevent your heart from beating too fast.
- If you’re being transported to the hospital, get in the car carefully and stay very still. Recline the seat as far back as you can.
5. Remove clothing, jewelry, or constricting items. Bites from venomous snakes can cause rapid and severe swelling.
6. Cover the bite lightly, then leave it alone. If you have a sterile bandage available, place it over the bite. After that, leave it to the paramedics to treat it further. There are many myths about what to do in case of snake bite; almost all of them just make the problem worse.
- Don’t try to suck the venom out.
- Don’t cut the skin around the wound.
- Don’t apply a tourniquet; this can cut off the circulation and lead to complications.
- Don’t apply ice.
7. Receive antivenom. Snakes have different types of venom; some affect the blood, while others affect the nervous system. Getting a dose of the right kind of anti-venom when the paramedics arrive is the most effective way to reverse the complications caused by the snake’s venom.
8. Wait it out. If you’re out in the wilderness, with no hope of paramedics getting there soon, the best you can do is get as comfortable as possible and wait for the venom to leave your system. In most cases, snakes don’t inject enough venom for the bite to be fatal. Treat the individual symptoms that may occur, and most importantly, stay calm. Fear of snakes and the anxiety that follows being bitten are often what leads to fatalities, since a pounding heart makes the poison spread more quickly.
Method 2 of 2: Treating a Non-Venomous Snake Bite
1. Stop the bleeding. Bites from non-venomous snakes are unlikely to be life threatening, but they still require first aid treatment to prevent infection. Treat a non-venomous snake bite like a puncture wound; the first step is to apply firm pressure to the wound with a sterile gauze or bandage, so you don’t lose too much blood.
- Don’t treat the bite as a non-venomous bite unless you’re absolutely sure that the snake was not venomous. If there’s any doubt, it’s important to get medical attention for a venomous bite.
2. Clean the wound carefully. Wash it with clean water and soap for several minutes. Rinse the wound thoroughly with more water, then wash it again. Pat it dry with a sterile piece of gauze. Use an alcohol-soaked pad if one is available.
3. Treat the wound with an antibiotic ointment. Apply a thin coating of antibiotic ointment to the clean wound.
4. Bandage the wound. This will protect it and help to prevent infection. Pay attention to the wound as it heals for any signs of infection such as redness or streaking.
5. Get medical attention. Ask your healthcare provider if there are signs of infection, or if you need a tetanus shot.
- If you see or hear a venomous snake, freeze. They do not see well, and use motion to determine threat. Back away slowly, alerting others to the snake’s presence.
- Watch your step in places populated by both humans and rattlesnakes. Rattlesnakes shake their rattles to frighten away potential danger so they don’t have to strike. But excessive hunting of rattlesnakes by humans has led to a change in their behavior in human-populated areas. Rattlesnakes in areas with a lot of people are unlikely to rattle at you, relying on their natural camouflage instead, which makes you more likely to step on one.
- Some recommend wrapping a tight, but not uncomfortable elastic bandage two to three inches above the bite site. You can use something like an Ace bandage for this, or can fashion one from a stretchy shirt or other article of clothing. NOTE: Some experts disagree with this step of using an elastic compress. Doing so may cause a rapid release of venom when the bandage or other material is removed. People not trained in first aid will often make the mistake of making the compress to tight, much like a tourniquet, which risks cutting off circulation and worsening the condition.
- Most snakes are not venomous. Most venomous snakes have triangular shaped heads. Learn which venomous snakes live in your area.
- Your best option is to avoid a snakebite. Take care in places where snakes are common. Beware when lifting objects snakes may hide under, like pieces of wood.
- Stay away from snakes.
Courtesy of Wiki How