When going into the wild to have some alone time with nature, there are some wild animals that you need to be wary about to stay safe such as snakes. Although more than 8,000 snakebites are recorded around the globe per year, only 10% result in deaths.
Don’t get it twisted; this statistic does not mean that snake bikes are not poisonous, how you respond to the bite will determine if you will recover. It is also important to note that even a bite from the commonly “harmless” snakes can result in serious health complications such as allergic reactions and infections.
Today, I will give you some actionable tips on how to respond to a snake bite and treat it in the wild before you get to a health facility. I will also go the extra mile and give you insights on how to avoid snakes bite while in the wild as well as information about the top five most venomous snakes.
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Snake Bite First Aid Guide
Step 1: Keep Calm
Getting all jumpy after you realize a snake has bitten you will increase the rate at which the venom spread to other parts of your body through the blood. It is recommended to keep calm, still, and quiet to prevent the proliferation of the venom. More importantly, the area affected should not be moved whether it is at or below the heart level to curtail the flow of the venom.
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Step 2: Remove Constricting Items and Clothing
It is typical for hikers and any other person who loves spending time outdoors to wear rings or constricting clothing. If you fall into this category, it is imperative to remove any such items especially around the bitten area of your body to prevent possible swelling.
Step 3: Allow Bleeding
This fact may sound absurd since most people believe that bleeding can result in unconsciousness. However, in the context of a snake bite, it is recommended to allow the bite to bleed freely for 15-20 seconds before any form of cleansing procedure is done. The main reason for doing this is to allow a large amount of the venoms to flow out of the body. This tactic has over the years helped save thousands of lives in some of the harshest terrains.
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Step 4: Create a Loose Splint
A splint is widely used to stabilize a broken bone in the wild before getting the victim to a health facility for treatment that is more specialized. Find a board or two strong straight sticks and use your shoelace to create an artificial splint. Wrap it using a towel to prevent any sharp edges from piercing the wound.
Other ideal alternatives to a shoelace are duct tape, medical tape, or commercial tape. If none of these is available, use your pocket knife to peel bark from the nearby tree and use it to fasten the splint around the affected area.
The main essence of the splint is to prevent further injury and movement around the bitten area. As mentioned earlier, unnecessary movements can result in further spread of the venom.
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Step 5: Evacuate the Victim
Every second counts and so it is important to act fast and evacuate the victim from the wild using any means of transport available to a health facility. If you have a cell phone, call the local rescue team.
Step 6: Monitor the Persons Vital Sign
Some of the vital signs that you should look out for include temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and breathing patterns. Be vigilant of any signs of shock such as shallow breathing, clammy skin, and sweating. The fear and realization that you have been attacked and bitten by a snake are usually more dangerous than the bite itself, and so it is important to stay as calm as possible as you head to the health facility and even as the area is examined and treated by the doctor.
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Step 7: Try to Identify the Snake
Different snake species have different venom and this calls for varying anti-venom medications. Identifying the particular snake species that is responsible for the bite will help the doctors to choose the right anti-venom quickly thereby prevent other health complications.
If you can safely kill the snake, do so and carry the dead snake along to the health facility. The doctors are trained on how to identify the various species accurately. However, do not risk another bite or waste time, if you cannot locate the snake immediately, follow the first aid procedures highlighted above, and get to a hospital as soon as possible.
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Things you Should Not Do
Don’t Engage in Strenuous Activities
Any slight strenuous activity can aid the movement of venom in the body, and so it is of paramount importance to avoid any strenuous activities. Carry the person to a safe location, offer first aid, and then seek specialized medical attention as soon as possible.
Don’t Place a Cold Pack on the Affected Area
Cold hampers proper circulation of blood to the infected area. Some health experts are of the idea that the venom increases one’s risk of frostbite.
Don’t Try to Use a Suction Device
Decades ago, getting rid of the toxin using a suction device used to be the standard procedure. Numerous studies have proved that this is not a safe form of treatment, as most suction devices do not have the ability to remove a substantial amount of toxin from the body. Some can even damage the sensitive skin tissue resulting in further complications.
Oral Suction and Cutting across the Bite Marks
Snake fangs are curved, and so the venom will not be in the area that you spot the bite marks. Thus, cutting across the area will only increase the risk of infection and expose the victim to excruciating pain. Oral suction is also highly not recommended as it can transfer a portion of the venom to your body thereby making you a victim of the snake bite too.
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Avoid Eating or Drinking Anything
Unless Okayed by a professional medical practitioner, you should not take any drinks or medications.
Don’t Apply Tourniquet
Restricting the normal flow of blood does not prevent the venom from spreading. This fact is based on the fact that highly concentrated poison can rapidly destroy the body’s cells. Therefore, allowing it to spread will reduce its ability to destroy tissues and increase the chances of the victim surviving.
How to Prevent Snake Bites
Avoid Provoking Snakes
Snakes and other wild animals are usually more afraid of us human beings than we are. However, they will not hesitate to attack if provoked. Therefore, do not bother or pester a snake if you come across one. Unless you are a professional snake handler, trying to pick or play with it will look like a form of provocation and can result in a snake bite. Most experts have stated that snakes use bites only as a defense mechanism.
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Avoid Areas Infested with Snakes
Carrying out background research of the area that you intend to visit will help you avoid areas that are infested with snakes such as terrains that have tall grass and rocks.
Stay on the Trail and Wear Protective Clothing
Sticking to the trail will help you avoid tall grass and other areas that snakes love to hide. In addition, wearing long pants, snake-proof gaiters, and ankle-high boots will reduce the risk of a snake bite significantly. Be careful when walking on areas that snakes love to hide such as under rocks and logs.
In addition, if you are walking in a zone that you cannot see the ground below or your feet, kick ahead to give any snakes lying around enough time to slither away.
Top 5 most Venomous and Dangerous Snakes
Number 1: Belcher’s Sea Snake
Belcher’s sea snake is the most deadly and feared snake in the world. Just a few milligrams of its venom is enough to kill up to one thousand people! They reside in water bodies and anglers, and deep-sea divers are the most vulnerable.
Number 2: Inland Taipan
Also referred to as the fierce snake, the Inland Taipan is definitely in a league of its own. It is the most venomous land snake, and it is estimated that it can kill up to 100 adult human beings and 250,000 mice using just 100 milligrams of its venom. Luckily, it is not known to be aggressive and rarely encountered by human beings in the wilderness.
Number 3: Eastern Brown Snake
The Eastern Brown snake is another venomous and dangerous snake that you stay away from while in the Australian wild terrain. 1/14,000 ounce of its venom can kill an adult human being. One of the main reasons why its venom is so fatal is that it contains potent amounts of blood coagulants and neurotoxins.
Number 4: Blue Krait
It is also important to point out that its venom is up to 16 times more potent than the cobra’s venom and it induced muscle paralysis and breakdown of the nervous system in minutes. If an antivenin is not administered within 6-12 hours, the victim might die, suffer from brain damage, or fall into a permanent coma.
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Number 5: Black Mamba
This list of the top five most venous snakes would not be complete without the mention of the Black Mamba. Millions of people fear it and found in large numbers the African continent. This snake is very aggressive and has the exceptional ability to strike with precision up to 12 times in a row.
It is also considered the fastest land snake as it can slither at a speed of up to 20km/hr. One bite contains up to 100-200 mg of venom, and only 0.25mg is required to kill an adult human being.
Symptoms of Snake Bites
When walking fast in the wilderness or taking a nap under a tree, you might not feel the snake as it bites you. Here are some of the common symptoms of snake bites that you should keep in mind when going outdoors.
- Bloody wound discharge
- Unusual body weakness
- Fang marks
- Loss of muscle coordination
- Blurred vision
- Extreme localized pain
- Vomiting and nausea
- Tingling and numbness
- Excessive sweating
- Rapid heart rate
It is of paramount importance to seek specialized medical attention after the first aid is done to increase your chances of recovering from a snake bite. As mentioned earlier, snakes will only bite when provoked; hence, you should try as much as possible to stay away from them when in the wild.
Please share your experiences with a snake in the wild, how you managed to recover from the ordeal, or additional insights on this topic through the comment sections.