Snakebite Treatment: Field Guide to for Snakebites
Snakebites are more common than you might think. Every year about 125,000 people are killed by snakebites worldwide. Snakebites typically happen during the summer seasons and are most snakebite victims are mostly male. However one of the most misunderstood things about snakebites is that they are not as dangerous as most people believe. Most people bit by snakes survive. There are many factors that lead to snakebite deaths, most of which is size and age. Most people that die from snakebites are the very young, and the elderly. Depending on the type of snake that bites you depends on the symptoms that you will get. Venomous snakes are of course the most dangerous. Non-venomous snakes are still dangerous however the first aid for non-venomous snakes is simple.
Non-venomous Snake Bite
Non-venomous snakebites are dangerous because the mouth of the snake is filled with bacteria. If you get bit by a non-venomous snake you are going to need to thoroughly cleanse the wound. You are also going to need to bandage the wound after it is cleaned. You should also clean the wound at least once per day to ensure that you do not get an infection.
Venomous Snake Bite
A venomous snake bite needs to be addressed as soon as possible. All venomous snake bites however are dealt with in the same way, remove the venom, cleanse and bandage the wound. In order to remove the venom, the best way to do it is with a suction syringe. There are snake bite kits that you can buy that contain everything you need. However, every doctor I have asked about snake bite kits has said that you should only use them if you are 30 mins or more away from a hospital. Otherwise, just get to the hospital. Now because there is venom in the bloodstream you are going to need to tightly wrap the wound both below and above the bite. The wrap should not be so tight that it restricts blood flow, but tight enough to restrict the movement of the part of the body that is affected. The less movement the affected area does the better. As a matter of fact, the less movement the person who was bit does the better. If at all possible construct a stretcher to carry the person.
If you are bitten by a venomous snake it is very important to identify the snake. Regardless of where you go you should either learn what venomous snakes are in that area or carry a small booklet of venomous snakes for that area to help you identify the snake. If you can catch the snake that is actually best but knowing what type of snake really helps for a couple of reasons. First, when you arrive at the hospital the doctors will know what type of anti-venom to give you. If you have captured the snake the doctors can not only identify the snake but also develop the anti-venom you need from that snake. That is why it is important to catch it. Anti-Venom only has a shelf life of about 2 weeks, so most hospitals do not have a great deal on hand.
The second reason it is important to identify the snake is that you will be able to know what symptoms to look for in the bitten person. For instance, if the person is bitten by a rattlesnake you should start preparing to deal with nausea, hemorrhaging, and heart failure. These specific health issues can be prepared for if the person does not receive hospital medical attention.
Likewise, if you are bitten by a more dangerous snake such as the Black Mamba, you know you are going to have to prepare for severe neurological, cardiovascular, and respiratory system shutdowns. Though the Black Mamba is extremely dangerous, anti-venom has now allowed individuals to live from Black Mamba bites.
Despite which snake bites you, you are going to need to dress the wound. Now if you know you are going to be in snake territory especially if it is the territory of a highly venomous snake, you should contact your doctor or a local doctor of the area you are going to and ask how you can prepare for snake bites.
Finally, the best way to prepare for snake bites is to prepare offensively. You should never just go running through snake lands without some form of protection. If I am going out into the woods, especially if I know I will be in snake areas, I like to carry both a long walking stick and a firearm. You should always deal with snakes from a distance. If you are out of striking range you cannot be bitten.
I do recommend going to your local zoo to learn more about the snakes in your area. Most zoos have a reptologist that will be more than happy to teach you about handling snakes in the wild. For more information about dealing with snakes check out, Dealing with Snakes.