Treating a Venomous Snake Bite in The Wild
When you are out walking in the woods, there is a better than average chance there are snakes their with you. Snakes are quite prolific in most hiking areas and yet we rarely run into them. This is particularly true of venomous snakes that could potentially do us harm. Snakes are going to avoid you if possible so the vast majority of them slither away long before we see them. For this reason, bites are fairly rare. Still, venomous snake bites are a serious enough situation that we can’t afford to ignore them. There is always that possibility when we head out into their territory that we could get bit. Would you know what to do if you were bitten by a venomous snake?
If not, this article is for you. Here are some tips on treating a venomous snake bite in the wild:
The first thing you have to do is make sure the snake is not still around. Move the victim away from the danger and locate the snake if possible. Do not get bitten trying to capture the snake but if you can safely kill it do so. Bringing along the snake can help the doctor ultimately know the treatment to give later, but certainly don’t risk a bite to do so. If you are unable to kill or collect it, make a mental note of the various things you see about the snake like color, shape of the head and so on.
Next, you want to make sure they remain calm. Venom travels through the system quickly and it speeds up if the victim is excited or scared. Calm them with gentle words and reassurance. If you can, keep them perfectly still. Movement also aides the flow of the venom. Try to make sure the bite site stays below the heart level if possible.
Remove all items around the bite site that could restrict swelling like jewelry or tight socks. This can cause all kinds of problems if the bite swells rapidly. Make the area free to grow if needed. Put a light splint in place to keep it still.
You can rinse the bite site but you will need to let it bleed for a short time first. The free flowing blood will push some of the venom out of the wound and even tiny amounts will make a huge difference. Do not suck the wound or cut the wound in any way. Also do not use a tourniquet. These are not good methods to help with snake bite and can actually make things worse.
Send someone ahead for help and begin to move the victim to civilization if possible. If you have several people, construct a makeshift stretcher. Carry the victim if you can to help them stay still. This is tough if you don’t have a group, so be prepared to walk them out if needed. Sometimes it is vital to do so.
Watch the victim’s breathing and be ready to give mouth to mouth or CPR if necessary. Chances are you will get them to a doctor long before this is necessary but always keep a close eye on your victim.