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First Aid Care for a Snake Bite

On a hike or a camping trip, you might encounter snakes. Some are harmless, while others can be deadly. Before you set out, arm yourself with information and supplies so you will be able to take swift action if someone is bitten.

Be Prepared

Familiarize yourself with snakes that are common in the area where you will be traveling. If someone gets bitten, being able to identify the species of snake will help you and medical staff assess the risk and choose the appropriate treatment. Acting quickly to treat a snake bite can mean the difference between life and death.

On a wilderness trip, a snake bite, cut, or fall can happen at any time. That is why you should always take along a first aid kit with bandages, gauze, and other supplies that you might need.

1st Aid Supplies has several types of portable first aid kits for outdoor adventures. Order one before your trip.

What to Do If Someone Is Bitten

If a person is bitten by a snake, look at the reptile and note as much as you can about its appearance. Even if you don’t know the species, describing the colors, the shape of the head and eyes, and other features can provide valuable clues to help medical professionals choose the right treatment.

Get the victim away from the snake so it can’t bite that person or anyone else. Don’t try to capture the snake because you might get bitten yourself.

If someone is bitten by a venomous snake, call for an ambulance immediately. If you have any doubt about whether or not the snake is venomous, err on the side of caution and call for help. Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to drive a vehicle yourself if you have been bitten by a snake. Even if you feel fine at first, you could go into shock behind the wheel.

While you are waiting for an ambulance, remove any jewelry or tight clothing from the area of the bite to minimize pain from swelling. Clean the wound and cover it with a clean and dry bandage. Don’t make a cut or try to squeeze or suck out the venom. Don’t apply a tourniquet or ice the area. Don’t give the bite victim alcohol, caffeine, or any medication. Those could cause the person’s body to absorb the venom faster. If possible, position the victim’s body so that the area that was bitten is at or below the level of the heart. That will slow the circulation of the venom throughout the body.

Better Safe Than Sorry

Many snakes are harmless, but bites from others can be deadly. Before you go off on an outdoor excursion, educate yourself about the potential dangers of snakes you may encounter and make sure everyone in the group knows what to do if someone is bitten. If you think there is any chance at all that the snake that caused the bite could be venomous, call an ambulance right away.