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First Aid

Surviving Snake Bites In The Outdoors

Snakes are among the most misunderstood, feared, and fascinating species on the earth. Despite the fact that only about 40 percent of snakes are venomous, you should exercise great caution when you are in areas where snakes tend to spend time. This goes for daylight as well as nighttime hours, even though snakes tend to be most active at night.

There are about 3,400 known species of snakes, which make their home on every continent except Antarctica and a few islands such as New Zealand, Greenland, and Iceland. Snakes can be found in virtually any size or length. Some, such as pit vipers, have very distinct characteristics that make them easy to identify. This is a good thing, since pit vipers tend to be some of the most deadly snakes to be found anywhere. Some snakes, such as rattlesnakes, have warning mechanisms such as rattles, which they shake as a warning when you are too close and are in danger of being bitten.

Just as is the case with many animals, snakes are afraid of people and will spend most of their time avoiding you. They will usually strike only if they feel threatened or are scared. Others, even ones that are poisonous, will try to get away when they feel threatened, but will sometimes stand their ground. Never go near or attempt to handle a snake you may come upon.

Some symptoms of snakebite include: pain and swelling at the site of the bite, fever, blurred vision, dizziness, rapid pulse, excessive sweating, thirst, skin discoloration, low blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, difficulty breathing, numbness and thirst.

If you are bitten by a snake take it seriously, but remain calm. It is essential to get emergency treatment as quickly as possible to ensure your survival. Always treat a snake bite as if it’s venomous. Your survival bag should always be with you and should include a fully charged cell phone, water, a medical kit to clean and cover the wound, and something to immobilize the infected area.

Today, medical authorities recommend the following when being bitten by a snake:

Whenever possible get a picture of the snake that bit the victim.

Note the color and shape of the snake if you don’t recognize the species.

Note the time the person was bitten.

Call 911 for help.

Move the victim beyond the striking distance of the snake.

Position the victim so that his heart is above the level of the bite.

Have them remain calm and avoid movement as much as possible to keep the venom from spreading.

Clean the wound and loosely cover with a clean dressing.

Remove constricting clothing or jewelry as the bite will likely swell.

If the bite was to the leg or foot, remove shoes.

It is okay to give water, but do not give caffeine or alcohol.

Do not allow the victim to walk. Carry or transport them by vehicle.

First aid myths for snakebite.

There are several outdated first aid techniques that are now believed to be unhelpful and even harmful:

Do not use a tourniquet.

Do not cut into the snake bite.

Do not attempt to suck the venom out by mouth.

Do not use a pump suction device. These devices were formerly recommended for pumping out snake venom, but now it’s believed that they are more likely to do harm than good.

Do not use a cold compress on the bite.

Do not give the person medications unless directed by a doctor.

Do not raise the area of the bite above the victim’s heart.

The best way to deal with a snakebite, however, is to avoid one entirely by being careful where you are walking and what you are touching in areas where snakes might be found. For example, if you happen to be on a nature hike in a desert, you should be careful where you walk, especially where you put your hands in areas that are shady, where snakes tend to rest in the heat of the day. It should be understood, however, that snakes can be found virtually anywhere, whether it be in a sunny desert, clumps of tall grass, under rocks or overgrown forests. Be careful searching for firewood when camping as snakes like to hide in wood piles and under piles of leaves.

Wear protective clothing. This includes, most notably, long sleeve shirts and long pants, preferably with gaiters, since snakes bite most often on the extremities when given the opportunity. If gardening be sure to wear heavy work gloves.

It is important to note that even when there is a snakebite, the prospects for complete recovery and survival are very good, but you must do everything as instructed, and you must get the victim to medical care as quickly as possible. Use your head, and trust yourself.

Thank you for reading this. I’d like to know your thoughts and what you may have done to better master survival against snakes when in the outdoors.

Source by Bernadette Vinyard

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