So here in Texas we have lots of different types of wildlife including snakes both poisonous and non-poisonous. It's important to know what and what not to do when encountering a poisonous snake in the unfortunate case that you are bit. First, in the event that you are bit and do have cell or phone service, call 9-1-1. This is vital especially if the area begins to change color, begins to swell or is painful. Most emergency rooms carry antivenom medication which will be beneficial.
If possible, take these steps while waiting for medical help:
1. Remain calm and move beyond the snake's striking distance.
2. Remove all jewelry and tight clothing in case of swelling.
3. Position yourself, if possible, so that the bite is at or below the level of your heart.
4. Clean the wound but don't flush it with water. Cover it with a clean, dry dressing.
DO NOT use a tourniquet or apply ice. DO NOT cut the wound or attempt to remove the venom. Try to remember the color of the snake and the shape of the head as they will allow healthcare providers to provide the most effective treatment.
While most snake bites occur on the extremities, after a bite from a poisonous snake there is often severe burning pain at the site within 15-30 minutes. The symptoms may also include swelling and bruising at the wound which may proceed all the way up the arm or leg. Other symptoms include nausea and a general sense of weakness as well as an odd taste in the mouth. Some snakes such as coral snakes have toxins which may cause tingling, difficulty speaking and weakness.
Be safe and always remember to call 9-1-1 or your nearest emergency provider.
Tracy A. Jones is an American Heart Association Master Program Trainer, Instructor, & AHA Faculty Member located in San Antonio, Texas.