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First Aid Tips for Snake Bites

Snake bite

As the weather warms, it is once again time once to watch out for snakes. Most are non-poisonous, but others aren’t. It is much more likely to be injured or killed in other ways than snake bites. Comparative risks tables place the annual death from drowning at more than 6,000 and the annual deaths from snake bites at 5.5.

If you are bitten by a snake, here are a few First Aid Field Tips (or home):

1. Preventing systemic absorption of the toxin which may be done with compressive dressings and immobilization of the bitten extremity.

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2. If signs of envenomation begin to occur, a constriction band to impede lymphatic flow should be placed on the extremity, proximal to the bite. Transport to a hospital should take place immediately.

3. The site should be wiped off and cleaned. The use of field first-aid methods such as incision and suction, tourniquets, and cryotherapy has been associated with a threefold increase in the likelihood of the need for surgical intervention.

4. Although popular belief has it that snakebites kill within minutes, in fact, the toxicity from snake venom usually does not even begin to affect the body for several hours. In one review, 64% of deaths from snakebite occurred between 6 and 48 hours after the patient was bitten.

Medscape (Bites and Stings: Snake Bites)
Snake Bites (July 17, 2008)