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Responding to Snake Bites

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Responding to Snake Bites

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 7,000 to 8,000 people are bitten by a venomous snake in the United States each year. While there are low fatalities, the number would be higher if medical attention was not sought immediately.

Who Has the Highest Risk of Snake Bites?

The United States boasts some of the best hiking trails in the world. Florida has over 1,400 miles of trails spanning Pensacola Beach to the Everglades. It is a great way to exercise and commune with nature. The problem is when nature strikes back.

Most snake bites in the country happen because victims don’t realize a snake was there to begin with. After all, snakes have had centuries to perfect their camouflage and stealth abilities.

Hikers, therefore, have a high chance of encountering snakes out in the wild. Not knowing how to spot a snake or be on the lookout for it can lead to accidentally touching or stepping on them. This will trigger a retaliatory response, which is when most victims get bitten.

Aside from the venom, snake bites are dangerous to those with allergies. An allergic reaction to the venom can complicate matters even further.

Snake Bite Symptoms

If the snake is nonvenomous, the most typical symptom is pain on the affected part. While no venom is present, the wound can get infected. Urgent treatment is still necessary.

If the bite is from a venomous snake like a cottonmouth, rattlesnake, or coral snake, severe burning pain will develop on the bite mark within 20 minutes. Swelling and bruising will follow along with:

Sometimes, the toxins can also affect the nervous system, which means the victim can have difficulty speaking.

Snake Bite

How to Treat Snake Bites

Whether you get bitten by a snake or are assisting someone who was, the first thing to do is move beyond the snake’s striking distance. This can prevent a second bite. Stay calm and follow these steps:

  1. Identify the snake by remembering its color and look. This can help with diagnosis and treatment later on.
  2. Remove tight clothing and jewelry to prevent swelling.
  3. Cover the affected area with a folded, dry dressing.
  4. Immobilize the affected area.
  5. Keep the bite lower than the heart.

Do not try to suck the poison out with your mouth. That can do more harm than good. Making an incision is also a bad idea. Do not drive too fast if you are going to the hospital or bringing the victim. Aside from the risk of an accident, speeding increases the victim’s heart rate and speeds up the spread of venom.

Preventing Snake Bites

The best way to prevent snake bites is to avoid snakes altogether. If you are hiking, learn to identify when a snake is present. If you encounter one, keep your distance. Instead, call a professional who is equipped to handle the animal.

If you work in an area inhabited by snakes, wear strong boots and long pants that provide an added layer of protection against bites. Remember to identify potential hiding spots before poking into them, even with your protective boots.

Baptist Emergency Room & Urgent Care

Get Immediate Treatment at Baptist Emergency Room & Urgent Care

Baptist Emergency Room & Urgent Care's emergency room is open 24/7, and urgent care is available from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day. Appointments are unnecessary - walk in, and our healthcare professionals are ready to help at both of our locations.

Navarre - 8888 Navarre Pkwy., Navarre, FL 32566. Call the center at 850-750-5698.

Nine Mile - 9400 University Parkway Suite 101A Pensacola, FL 32514. Call the center at 448-227-4600.

Baptist Emergency Room & Urgent Care is comprised of board-certified ER-trained physicians and professionally trained ER nurses who deliver quality medical care. Our urgent care and emergency room can effectively treat various medical conditions. From fever to fractures, allergies to abdominal pain, and colds to concussions, we have you covered with on-site labs, CT, X-rays, and ultrasound.