Friday, July 8, 2011

Snake Bite 101 – A List Of Do’s & Don’ts That Could Save Your Life

Nearly 50,000 people are estimated to be bitten by snakes each year within the United States, 9,000 of which are bitten by a poisonous species of snake. Fortunately though, with today’s technology and the availability of Anti-Venom, in most cases you have less than a 0.5% chance of actually dying from a snakebite within the United States. Most experts estimate that over 5 Million people around the world are bitten by snakes each year but only about 125,000 people actually die from them. When it comes to the snakes themselves, only about 15% of the over 4000 species of snakes in the world are actually poisonous. Now with that being said, most poisonous snakebites are extremely painful and take several days or even weeks for someone to recover from. Keep in mind that small children are even more susceptible to death or serious injury from snakebites due to their smaller size and higher venom per body pound concentration. The Venom itself in many species of snakes is strong enough to cause nausea and vomiting soon after being bitten.

Most snake bite victims also experience one or more of the following symptoms: severe localized pain at the site of the bite, bleeding from the bite wound, low blood pressure, rapid heart rate, numbness, blurred or temporary loss of vision, dizziness, loss of motor functions or coordination, burning, convulsions, fever, difficulty breathing, difficulty speaking, excessive and uncontrollable sweating, overall weakness, skin discoloration, fainting, etc… Long story short, Snakebites are serious injuries and proper care needs to be performed as soon as possible. Even a bite from a Non-Poisonous snake needs to be properly taken care of as they can still cause serious infections or cause allergic reactions in some people. Even Non-Poisonous snakes often feed on birds, mice, rats, and other rodents that can often carry diseases that can then be transferred to a bite victim. So be sure to still seek Medical attention and it’s always a good rule of thumb to get a Tetanus shot if you have not received one within about 5 years.

If you ever find yourself snake bitten out in the wild then just remember the “DO’s” and “DON'TS” when it comes to treating yourself or others. Here’s a list of things to remember NOT TO DO:
DO NOT cut the wound and try sucking the venom out yourself.
DO NOT apply ice to the wound.
DO NOT put on a tourniquet.
DO NOT take any medication.
DO NOT take anything else orally by mouth.
DO NOT consume any alcohol.
DO NOT try to catch or kill the snake.
DO NOT drive yourself to the hospital if you are alone unless it is absolutely necessary.
DO NOT overexert yourself.

Here’s a list of things to remember to DO:

DO separate yourself or the victim from the snake to prevent additional bites.
DO call 911 as soon as possible.
DO call the Hospital in advance if at all possible to inform them of the snakebite so they can prepare the anti-venom.
DO call the National Poison Control Center if you are unfamiliar with the treatment of snakebites. They can be reached at 1-800-222-1222 and will walk you through step by step instructions for treating yourself or others.
DO use a snake bite kit if available when you’re located far from a Hospital. I would highly recommend the Sawyer Extractor brand as it requires no cutting and has high enough suction to actually remove the majority of the snake’s venom.
DO take a picture of the snake if possible or quickly draw yourself a note with colors, shapes, and markings. This will help doctors identify the snake to ensure that you get the correct Anti-Venom once treated at a Hospital.
DO remain calm and try to slow down your breathing by breathing in and out of your nose.
DO keep the wound below your heart level.
DO monitor your or the victims vital signs.
DO keep the portion of the body that was bitten immobilized and move it as little as possible.
DO wash the wound with soap and water if available.
DO lay the victim flat with their feet raised about 1 foot above their body if they go into shock.
DO remove any rings, necklaces, watches, ankle wraps, knee braces, or anything else that could be restrictive to proper blood flow.
DO loosely apply a bandage roughly 2 to 4 inches above the bite on the side closest to your heart if you are unable to seek specialized care within approximately 30 minutes. However, the bandage should be loose enough to be able to place 1 to 2 fingers underneath it. The idea here is to slow down the venom without significantly disrupting blood flow or cutting off blood flow all together. Be sure to check the bandage frequently to ensure it remains semi-loose as the limb may continue to swell and require the bandage be readjusted. DO NOT let the bandage become a tourniquet as swelling increases, at that point it’s better to have NO bandage then too tight of one.
DO be sure to notify Doctors or Nurses if you are allergic to Horses, as Anti-Venin is commonly prescribed for snakebites but is a serum derived from the antibodies found in the blood of Horses. If you are allergic to Horses, then you might still be able to receive the antidote but may require additional medication or alternative care as well, so BE SURE they know in advance.

*** The material(s) discussed within this guide could be DANGEROUS if not executed properly and precisely, so it is to be used at YOUR OWN RISK!***


  1. Thank you for this one too (just read your spider info)! Again, trying to educate young children on the importance of respecting space and not having the need to try and play with everything that's out there.

  2. You are very welcome! Glad I could help. You're absolutely right, children are very prone to getting bitten simply out of curiousity and the habit of wanting to pick everything up that they encounter. Thank you!

  3. Thank you for the visuals to help identify snakes and the DO's and DON'Ts for snake bites! Very helpful info!

  4. this was very helpful for my school paper.

  5. this was helpful for my school paper. thank you

  6. Great, glad we could help! Thanks for checking out our page.

  7. The information on the terms which need to follow for poisonous bites are really innovative and helpful for the affected persons have this in a generic way, Thanks for the share...

  8. Personal Update: Last week I was bitten by a Copperhead about an hour South West of Dallas/Fort Worth. He was right at 22" long and struck me in the bottom portion of my left calf muscle. Fortunately, I had an extractor kit in my glove box and was able to administer the kit within about 45 seconds of being bitten. At that time I was a considerable distance away from town/hospital, alone and had virtually no cell phone reception. Within hours swelling had already set in and severe bruising had occurred but I hadn't experienced any other symptoms such as dizziness, headache, vomiting, etc... Within 5 days nearly all the visible signs of swelling and bruising have now subsided. I just thought I would provide a personal update as to my experience and the use of an extractor kit. This is now the 3rd time that I have personally had success with the use of the Sawyer Extractor kit. However, I am making no such recommendation for its sole use. Proper professional care is always strongly recommended above any type of personal treatment since it's always better to be safe then sorry. So the kit is to be used solely at YOUR OWN RISK! I just always like to share my own personal experiences in hopes that it might be helpful to others. Thanks again everyone for visiting our page!