Snake bites are usually deadly. With this in mind, it is vital to react quickly with the appropriate steps when dealing with snake bites. If possible, call for emergency assistance right away. In case an individual sustained a snake bite in a remote area, it is important to seek immediate medical care.
One of the common yet highly venomous snake species is the rattlesnake. Antivenin is already available but should be given as early as possible to prevent further damage or even death.
Steps in handling snake bites
Once an individual is suspected with a snake bite, there are vital steps that you should be familiar with.
- Always give importance to safety at all times. You have to move the individual away from the snake. Make sure that you will follow the universal precautions and utilize personal protective gear if available.
- Call for emergency assistance right away. Delaying care might only lead to permanent tissue damage.
- Do not elevate the bite site. You have to keep the bite site below the level of the heart.
- Wash the bite site using soap and warm water.
- Any constricting clothing and jewelry should be removed from the extremity where the bite was inflicted. Take note that the area might swell and any constricting items will cause tissue death.
- In case the snake is included in the elapid species (cobras and coral snakes); you have to cover the extremity using an elastic pressure bandage. You can start wrapping at the point nearest to the heart and move towards the finger or toes. Continue to maintain the bite site lower than the level of the heart.
- You have to be ready to provide appropriate first aid care while waiting for the emergency team to arrive on the scene. Carefully monitor for any signs of shock.
Important tips to bear in mind
Even though you have seen it in the movies, do not cut or suck on the bite site. Sucking on the wound will only cause harm while cutting into the wound will only increase the risk for infection.
Always remember that prevention is the best way to avoid the undesirable effects of a snake bite. There are a number of preventive measures to bear in mind in order to avoid snake bites while out in the wilderness.
- Avoid areas that have tall brushes and deep crevices
- Wear long pants and boots up to the ankle.
- Try to create a lot of noise and vibration while walking outdoors.
- Do not attempt to approach snakes. All you have to do is to avoid them.
In case the snake that inflicted a bite is dead, it is recommended to bring it to the hospital. Just be careful since dead snakes tend to bite reflexively for up to one hour.
It is important to note that emergency personnel in areas prone to snakes can often identify the snake responsible basing on the wound. Coral snakes possess small-sized mouths packed with teeth with a line of small perforations. As for pit vipers, they have two fangs and the bite often has two small holes.