Snakes are at the forefront of phobias and with summer coming on, snake bites are a real concern for anyone hiking, biking, and trail running in the backcountry. From California through Colorado and especially in Arizona, knowing how to treat a snake bite is essential for any outdoor enthusiasts in the USA and beyond.
Snake Bite Poison Hotline: (1-800-222-1222)
However, pop-culture misinformation surrounds the treatment of snake bites and in order to dispel those myths, we’ve provided a step by step process to treating a snake bite.
Top 5 Snake Bite Myths
1) You can suck venom out of a wound
2) Tying off a bitten limb with a tourniquet prevents venom from travelling to other parts of the body
3) Shocking the wound neutralizes the venom
4) Cutting the wound will allow the venom to ‘bleed out’
5) Drinking booze dilutes the venom
7 Steps To Survive A Snakebite
1) Stay Calm
This might be the important step towards staying alive. After bitten, many people injure themselves or simply increase blood flow by freaking out. Instead, walk slowly, be careful not to injure yourself further, and walk 30 feet away from the snake’s location.
2) SIT DOWN!
Poison entering the body can drop a victim’s blood pressure, resulting in a fainting spell. Sitting down helps prevent fainting and saves crucial minutes in the treatment process down the road.
3) Ditch the rings
Take off any accessories and tight-fitting clothing attached to the bitten limb. This can include elbow pads for mountain biking, heady toe rings, and even socks. Swelling immediately follows a snake bite and anything restricting the swelling can cause extreme discomfort.
4) Plan The Next Step
Continue to stay calm and find a way to reach medical personnel with the proper equipment and anti-venom to treat the snakebite. The only effective way to treat a snake bite is with the right anti-venom. If you have a sharpie circle the bite and write the time since the bite next to the circle. Continue marking the swelling with corresponding times, which will let medical personnel understand the condition of the bite.
5) Call 9-1-1
If you’re lucky, you have cell service. If that’s the case call 9-1-1 or alert park rangers to the situation. If a cell signal is unavailable, either try to reach a point where service is available or ask a partner, stranger… anybody to go call for help.
6) Lone Survivor
If you’re alone in the wilderness and without a cell signal, the best thing to do is stay calm, drink water, and start walking to a trailhead. Many snake bite victims experience full recoveries after walking for miles because they reached medical personnel instead of waiting for a stranger to walk by.
7) Drive Safe
Although adrenaline is likely rushing through a person’s body after experiencing a snake bite, drive safe to the hospital. Some side effects can impair a driver’s abilities and its important to stay calm and focused on getting medical attention.