Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Snake Bite

How To Survive a Snake Bite


According to the FDA and the National Institutes of Health, about 8,000 people in the U.S. are treated for poisonous snake bites each year. Poisonous snakes have triangular heads, split-like pupils, and two long fangs which make puncture wounds at end of each row of teeth. Non-poisonous snake bites leave two rows of teeth marks but no puncture wounds, but don't use bite mark to determine type since swelling may hide wounds.

Things to watch for...

Puncture and/or bite marks
Pain and Swelling
Nausea and puking
Difficulty breathing or swallowing
Possible Allergic reaction - Weakness or dizziness; redness or discoloration at bite; trouble breathing; signs of shock (pale, cold, drowsy, etc.)

What to do...
  • If possible, try to identify type of color of snake but don't put yourself in danger!
  • Wash bite wound with soap and water.
  • Keep bitten body part below heart level, if possible.
  • Call emergency number or animal control, if necessary.

If bite is from a Poisonous snake, also do this...
  • Remove constrictive items (like rings or watches) since swelling may occur.
  • DO NOT apply tourniquet or ice.
  • Monitor breathing and make sure airway is open.
  • Keep victim still to slow down circulation of venom.
  • DO NOT let victim eat or drink anything or take medication since it could interfere with emergency treatment.
  • If possible and safe, remove venom - esp. if help is hours away (Most snakebite kits have proper venom extractors in them.)
  • DO NOT use "cut and suck" method!
  • Get to a doctor or hospital to receive antivenin.

The worst effects may not be felt for hours after a bite from most poisonous North American snakes, but it is best if antivenin is given as quickly as possible (or at least within 12-24 hours of the bite)

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