People instinctively panic after being bitten by a snake. But did you know that staying calm and focused can save your life?
This article explains why it is crucial to stay calm and collected in the first moments after a snake bite. Safety tips for first aid for snakebites are also described.
Can you survive a poisonous snake bite?
photo by David Claude on Unsplash.
Cobras, rattlesnakes and vipers are among the most deadly snake species in the world.
It is possible to survive a poisonous snake bite because not all poisonous snakes are fully loaded with venom. Even fully loaded planes may not deliver a lethal dose of poison in the event of a collision.
So, if it is possible to survive a venomous snake bite, it is important to know how to give first aid for snake bites and to do it quickly.
Factors that affect the severity of snakebites
Any snake bite should be taken seriously, unless you can confirm that you were bitten by an innocent snake. The severity of the bite increases if you know the snake is poisonous.
Treatment of a snakebite should also take into account the age, size, health and mental state of the victim. For example, children are at greater risk of dying from a bite because of their age and size.
Other important factors to consider are the health of the snake, the interval since the last use of the venom mechanism, and the type of bite.
This information can be a matter of life and death. The exact treatment depends on how many teeth the victim has bitten, the amount of venom injected, the location of the bite on the victim’s body and the proximity of the major blood vessels.
In summary, an attack with a mildly venomous snake can be life-threatening, while an incident with a highly venomous snake may not be. It all depends on the circumstances – the type of snake, certain characteristics of the victim and details of the bite.
How long does it take to die from a snake bite?
If not treated immediately, the victim can die within hours or minutes.
How do you deal with snakebites in the wild?
Snake bites are common in some parts of the world. In India, for example, snake bites cause about 58,000 deaths a year.
In Queensland, Australia, it is not uncommon to hear about people who have been bitten by snakes near their homes, in the bush or other wild places.
Knowing the proper first aid procedures, especially if you are off the beaten path in nature, can be very helpful in saving your life.
You can treat a snake bite like a puncture wound, but only if you are sure you were bitten by a harmless species of snake.
Stop the bleeding from the bite wound with a clean cloth (preferably sterile gauze). Once the bleeding has stopped, you can clean and dress the wound to prevent infection.
The best thing you can do if you are bitten by an unknown or unidentified snake is to treat it as an emergency. In this situation, you should seek help immediately.
Some venomous snakes not only have the most poisonous venom, but they inject it themselves with every bite. One example is the native taipan, a common snake in Australia.
After being bitten by such a snake, your survival depends on getting an antidote – the only medicine that neutralizes the venom of dangerous snakes – in time.
Thus, obtaining an immediate and reliable antidote in a hospital or treatment center becomes a race against time in a life-threatening situation.
What should you do if you are bitten by a snake?
It is important to learn how to deal with snake bites, especially if you live in an area where poisonous snakes are present. If you are dealing with a victim, there are some important steps you need to take:
- Call the emergency numbers of the country
Your first reflex should be to seek immediate medical attention from the victim. Call your local emergency number (e.g., 911) to report the incident and follow the instructions of the emergency responder.
A snake uses a number of defense mechanisms to survive in its environment and protect itself when it feels threatened. Most snakes prefer not to be discovered by their predators and to hide or run away.
So when a snake decides to strike, it is a sign that it feels restless and threatened. In this situation, it should be avoided at all costs.
After the incident, don’t try to catch the snake. This can agitate the creature even more and make it strike again.
Instead, take the victim to a safe place away from the snake and do your best to heal the bite while waiting for medical attention.
Even if the snake is killed, you should leave it alone. What many people don’t know: A dead snake can bite reflexively for an hour. So unless you are trained to control dead snakes, you need to keep your distance from the victim and yourself.
- Stay calm and limit movement
Keep the victim relaxed and calm – this is very important to prevent an increase in the victim’s heart rate.
The increased heart rate and bite movements cause the venom injected by the venomous snake to circulate through the body much faster. The spread of the toxin attacks vital organs, such as… For example, it can cause muscle death, which can lead to kidney failure, or paralysis of the respiratory muscles, which can lead to death.
- Watch for the symptoms of a poisonous sting.
It is good to rule out that the snake is poisonous. If neither you nor the victim is familiar with the snake species, watch for symptoms of a venomous bite.
A venomous bite can be mild or extremely painful, depending on the type of snake. Within 5 minutes there may be redness and swelling at the bite site, as well as blistering, burning and bleeding.
Before the bite site swells, loosen or remove clothing (watches, jewelry, belts, shoes) that are near the bite site. These can contract around the swollen area and compress it further, which can lead to further complications and even tissue damage.
The victim may experience symptoms such as weakness, fatigue, nausea and vomiting. The situation becomes critical when the victim’s blood pressure begins to drop or the victim begins to lose consciousness, convulses or goes into shock.
A poisonous bite can also cause significant internal bleeding, tachycardia (high resting heart rate), risk of respiratory failure and paralysis.
- Pay attention to the appearance of the hose
Note any features or marks on the snake’s body that may be useful information for medical professionals. This can help them determine the best course of action for the victim.
It may be helpful to take a picture of the snake with your cell phone camera, but only if it is safe to do so. But even if you skip this step, don’t worry – responders can still determine the type of snake based on the bite itself.
What should you not do if you have been bitten by a snake?
Photo by Marcus Lange on Unsplash
Here are some important rules about what to avoid after a snake bite:
Catching a snake is very risky and not recommended for two simple reasons: He is very fast and his bite is potentially fatal. Plus, this snake is already in defense mode, so you risk a second bite if you try to go around the corner and catch it.
- Raise the bite plane above the level of the heart
Elevating an area bitten by a snake can cause the venom to move through the body faster. It is therefore important that the bite is always below the heart to reduce blood flow.
The recommended action is for the victim to lie down and relax.
- Open the wound to suck out the poison.
Cutting the wound with a knife can cause additional damage and increase the risk of infection.
You may also think it useful to remove the poison from the wound by suction. However, this can lead to a bacterial infection of the damaged area, and accidentally ingesting the poison can lead to poisoning.
Today’s snake bite experts strongly advise against the use of tourniquets because they are ineffective and even dangerous.
For example, a tourniquet can restrict or stop the victim’s blood flow. This concentrates the snake’s venom in the limb, increasing the chance of tissue damage.
Impeding the victim’s blood flow with a tourniquet can also damage the limb and cause gangrene, which can lead to limb amputation and even death.
First aid for hose belts and not
Below is a short list of references on first aid do’s and don’ts:
- Call 911 immediately for medical attention for the injured person.
- Make sure the victim is in a comfortable position, reassure the person and limit movement of the wound or bitten limb. You can use splints on a limb to restrict movement.
- Watch for symptoms of a poisonous bite and begin to loosen or remove clothing that may swell around the bite site if it does. Keep an eye on the progress of the swelling, as this information can also help the emergency services.
- Note the time of the snake bite, so the suspect knows how much time has passed and how critical the victim’s condition is.
- Press firmly on the site of the bite to prevent the poison from spreading throughout the body. You can apply a bandage or a piece of cloth to apply direct pressure. Hold the bite mark under the heart.
- Perform CPR if the victim is having difficulty breathing.
- Do not move the victim unnecessarily, except to remove him/her from the area and provide first aid. If possible, remain in the location where the victim was found to avoid any movement that could stimulate the person’s circulation.
- Do not raise the bite area above the level of the heart.
- Do not wash the bite site, as this will remove traces of venom that rescuers can use to quickly identify the snake species and thus save the victim’s life.
- Do not attempt to open the wound, suck out the poison or apply a tourniquet.
- Do not try to treat the bite with medication or painkillers as this may cause side effects (blood thinning).
Ultimately, proper and prompt medical care for snakebites can mean the difference between life and death. Systematic first aid can prevent a number of medical complications that can lead to irreversible organ damage or even death.
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