Florida is home to over forty-five (45) species of snakes. Six (6) of those species are venomous. Snakes can be found in all types of habitat, they prefer cool, dark and damp areas such as low shrubs, burrows, debris and boards. Would you know what to do if you or someone you know is bitten by a snake?
Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind if you or someone you know is bitten by a snake.
- Seek medical attention and call 911 Immediately.
- Remain calm and move away from the snake’s striking distance.
- Immobilize the bite area if on an extremity and keep it lower than the victim’s heart.
- Make sure to remove rings, bracelets, watches, or restrictive clothing on the extremity with the bite. Wash the area of the bite with soap and water if possible and cover it with a clean dry dressing.
- Keep the victim warm and as comfortable as possible and offer reassurance.
- If possible, keep a record of the time of the bite, the victim’s symptoms, and any first aid measures. Be sure to give this information to emergency medical personnel. This will help the doctor and Poison Control Center toxicology determine the severity of the bite and appropriate treatment.
- Be aware of any allergies (drug, food, animal) or existing medical conditions the victim may have.
- Although providing identification of the snake is helpful, it is not necessary. Do not delay seeking immediate medical attention or risk further injury to the victim or others to identify the snake.
- Don’t wait for symptoms to develop to seek medical attention.
- Don’t attempt to catch the snake. Try to remember the color and shape of the snake to provide identification to medical personnel which will help aid in treatment.
- Don’t apply a tourniquet to a bitten extremity as this can completely cut off blood flow and could result in the loss of the affected limb.
- Don’t apply ice or attempt to cool the bite area.
- Don’t make incisions at the bite marks and/or apply suction as this can cause further injury.
- Don’t apply any heat or electric shock to the affected area.
- Don’t give any stimulants or alcohol to the victim as this may speed up the body’s absorption to the venom.
If the bite is from a nonvenomous snake, typical symptoms are pain and scratches at the site. However, if the bite is from a poisonous snake, there is usually severe pain at the site of the bite within approximately fifteen (15) to thirty (30) minutes after having been bitten.
This can also progress to bruising and swelling at the site of the wound going all the way up to the arm or leg. There may be additional symptoms such as nausea, weakness and an odd taste in the mouth. Bites from venomous snakes, such as coral snakes, have toxins in their bites that can cause neurological symptoms such as tingling, weakness and difficulty communicating.
Following the above tips can help increase the chances of recovery from a snake bite.