No matter where you go outdoors, there are likely snakes somewhere. These reptiles are found all over the contiguous United States, and they’re highly active during warm months. Fortunately, they usually ignore or flee from humans. However, the CDC reports that around 8,000 people get bit each year. While death by snakebite is rare, it’s good to know what to do if you ever find yourself unlucky enough to encounter a snake’s fangs. The following are some basics from our wilderness first aid classes.
Take Note of the Snake’s Appearance
Different snakes have different kinds of venom — and many have no venom at all. If you can describe the snake to medical professionals, they can treat you more quickly and more accurately. However, don’t attempt to capture or kill the snake; you may get bit again.
Get Medical Attention as Soon as Possible
While you should avoid moving the bitten limb as much as possible, it’s also crucial that you get medical attention quickly. Even if the snake isn’t venomous, you could get a serious bacterial infection from the bite.
Don’t Try to Suck the Venom Out
Many people are surprised to learn in wilderness first aid class that sucking the venom out doesn’t work. Unfortunately, this dangerous myth has been popularized by mass media. By sucking on the injured site, you only run the risk of hurting yourself further by getting venom in your mouth.