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Dealing With Snake Bites

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
Eastern Diamondback

A snake bite is a rare threat to the outdoor enthusiast but that doesn't keep it from being a main source of fear for some people.

There are two families of venomous snakes indigenous to North America, the pit vipers and Elapidae

As rare as venomous snake bites are though there are still  about  7,000 reported bites in the United States each year. The good news is 3,000 of those bites are due to people

handling or molesting the snakes. One less episode of 'Croc Hunter' and they would be fine. Of all of the snake bites in the USA only about 15 deaths per year are a result of a venomous snake bite. However, there are other related injuries such as limb loss, loss of feeling

Members of the pit viper family include rattlesnakes, copperheads, and cottonmouths.

 

Prevention
Obviously avoiding snake bites in the first place should be a high priority. As noted above almost 1/2 of all venomous snake bites in the US happen when people are handling, molesting, or trying to catch or kill a snake. In other words your at 42% less risk of being bitten if you just leave the snake alone. About 10-15% of snake bites are from snakes that were presumed dead, even a snakes severed head can bite you. When you see a snake give it plenty of room, make other people around you aware of it's position and continue on your way.

Your best defense is to be aware of your surroundings and watch your step. If you live in an area where snakes are common keep your shrubs trimmed up off of the ground and avoid going barefoot. When hiking, walking or working be aware of where you place your feet.

85% of unmolested snake bites happen below the knee. Wearing boots will go a long ways towards protecting you from the pain of a venomous snake bite. In most cases a quality leather boot is fine but for those living and playing deeper in snake country, snake boots or chaps are a good option if only for the extra peace of mind.

 

First Aid  

If you are bitten by a snake, remain calm, snake bites are rarely fatal. If you are sure the snake was venomous seek immediate medical attention. If possible call 911 or the medical facility where you will seek treatment and let them know you are coming.

Keep the bite immobilized and below the level of your heart.

 

 
Related Links and Resources
Center for Disease Control
FDA
http://www.aafp.org/afp/20020401/1367.html
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