Emergency Care For Snake Bites

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snake bites
Snake bites can cause severe pain

Snake bites are not very common injuries in Canada but they can happen. The injury can be considered life threatening if the snake is poisonous. The most common poisonous snakes are pit vipers. Their heads are triangular, with a depression pit between the eye and the nostril on either side of the head. Aside from pit vipers, other poisonous snakes include cobra, copperhead, coral snake, cottonmouth, rattlesnake and venous snakes found in zoos.

The venom from the snake bite is poisonous, which usually is life threatening. Anti-venom medications may be given to these patients to treat the venom, but the application of  first aid treatment can help reduce the danger. Snake bites can be prevented by avoiding touching the snake and entering into their area. Most snakes avoid people; however, they bite only if they are surprised and / or threatened.

Emergency Care

Aside from the treatment after the person is bitten by a snake, the following tips may help in rendering emergency care:

Protect the person

  • Move the person away from the snake
  • Have the person lie on his back, his wound should be lower than the heart
  • Immobilize the bitten extremity and advise the person to keep still to prevent the spread of the venom
  • Remove any jewelry from the extremity, if the area begins to swell and change in color, the snake is probably poisonous
  • If a suction machine is available, you may try to suction the wound depending upon the manufacturer’s advice
  • Clean the wound, but do not flush with water and cover it with clean and dry dressing
  • Monitor the person’s vital signs since he is still vulnerable from shock
  • Remember the color and shape of the snake as it needed for the treatment

Never Do the Following:

  • Do not cut a bite wound
  • Attempt to suck the venom
  •  Apply tourniquet, ice or water
  • Give the person alcohol or coffee
  • Do not capture the snake
  • Give the person stimulants unless with the doctor’s advice. Be cautious in giving pain medications as well without a doctor’s prescription.
  • Do not give anything by mouth

Prevention of Snake Bites

  • Avoid areas where the snakes usually hide
  • Some people are ignorant about whether or not the snake is venomous, whether not it is venomous, do not pick them up or playing with them unless you are properly trained.
  • Never provoke a snake as this is the reason why they become aggressive and bites may occur
  • When hiking, it is best for you to tap the area ahead of you; snakes will likely avoid you when they get a warning.

It would also be best if you wear long pants or boots while hiking as for protection.


WebMd. Snakebite Treatment. Retrieved on June 14, 2014 from http://www.webmd.com/first-aid/snakebite-treatment

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