Preventing Snake Bites and What To Do If You're Bit
Whether you are a tactical professional on a mission or an outdoor enthusiast on an adventure, there are certain aspects of nature you are just bound to run into at some point in your journey. Snakes are one of those elements of nature you are bound to come face to face with in the great outdoors. Here are 10 tips on preventing snake bites and what to do in case of one occurring.
- Respect their space
If you see a snake, you may be tempted out of sheer curiosity to get a closer a look. While this is purely human nature, it is always a better idea to just respect the snake's space and leave it be. If the snake is in your camp space, just keep a watchful eye on it. In most cases, they are just passing through and don't want any trouble. Never charge at a snake to try to scare it out of your space because it will naturally read that as an attack and strike you.
- Know the defensive movements of a snake
There are certain movements of a snake in defensive mode that you need to know. Snakes only attack when they feel scared or threatened by your presence. They do not strike just because they are snakes. It is almost always in response to something a human does as to whether or not a snake will bite. A snakes first line of defense when it feels threatened is to retreat from the threat (you) by slithering away to a brush or behind a rock to get away. If a snake does this, leave it alone. Another sign of a snake being frightened is that they will coil into themselves with their head hidden under their core. The bottom line is if a snake retreats either by hiding under something else or hiding its head under its own body in a coil, leave it alone! This is the first sign of an impending strike. If you continue to stress the snake out, the next signs of a defensive measure from the snake will be throat puffing to appear larger, tail shaking to try to scare you away, and hissing as a final warning. All of these signs are leading up to the moment they will actually bite you as their final defensive mechanism.
- Remember that a dead snake is still a dangerous snake
Some people find a dead snake and think it would make a nice photo op for their social media. While you can be that guy, you should also know that a dead snake can still have venom and even more disturbing, snakes are known to have after death reflexes which means they could still bite you even after they are dead. If you want to play with a zombie snake for a few likes on your Instagram, do so at your own risk.
- Never go barefoot in tall grass or murky waters
Snakes are usually hiding in tall grass or in murky waters so going barefoot in either one should be out of the question. Always wear boots when you know you will be walking through either of these terrains or environments to reduce the effects of a bite.
- Do not suck the venom with your mouth
If you are bitten, there are a few things you shouldn't do. Most people get their snake knowledge from movies or other unreliable sources and it causes more problems than solutions. For instance, you might have seen a few movies where someone sucks the venom out of a bite and all is well again. This is completely false and unsafe. If you suck the venom out of the bite, you end up running the risk of it still getting into your bloodstream by way of digestion because you won't be able to truly get it all out of your mouth by spitting. It also doesn't usually remove enough venom from the bite to make it any less life-threatening.
- Do not try to "drain" the wound
Another common mistake when dealing with snake bites is to "drain the wound" by cutting either above or below the bite mark to remove the venom. This only leads to a great risk of infection and doesn't actually remove the venom that is already circulating in the bloodstream from the bite. Once a snake bites and the venom is released, the venom begins to travel in the bloodstream almost immediately.
- Do use a proper snake venom suction kit
There are snake venom suction kits and those are the only thing you should use for sucking out venom. These kits, when used the right way, can effectively suck out up to 30 to 40 percent of the venom which will reduce the effects and buy you more time to get to medical attention.
- Wash the bite site as soon as possible
You want to wash the bite with clean water and soap as soon as possible. This will help remove any surface venom that hasn't had the chance to sink in deeper. It will also help prevent infection to the wound.
- Protect the heart from venom
Another great tip for snake bites is to keep the heart protected. When you have a wound, common sense tells you to elevate it to slow the loss of blood, but a snake bite is a different kind of wound because the venom is working against you more than the blood loss. If the bite is on your hand or arm, you want to keep your extremity lowered rather than raised. If you raise or elevate the arm or leg, you are giving the venom a more direct line to your heart whereas if keep the hand toward the ground, the venom has a harder time circulating through your blood to the heart. This will help buy you more time to get to a hospital.
- Seek medical treatment as soon as possible
Regales of what kind of snake bit you or how experienced you think you are in the outdoors, you should always seek medical attention following any bite. All too often, people think they are fine after a bite, and it takes a fatal turn when the venom has had enough time to circulate through the body. Even if you feel fine at first, you still need to see a doctor as soon as possible.