Few snakes are venomous but the sight of even a 6″ garden snake normally scares the heck out of most people. When in such a fright, the last thing on your mind is whether or not the snake is poisonous.
If you are bitten by a snake, try to remember what it looks like. If you or someone else has a cell phone, take a picture! If the snake ends up being poisonous, having a picture might save your life. Knowing the type of snake will help medical professionals determine which antidote to administer.
Venomous snakes include the following:
- Coral snake
- Cottonmouth (water moccasin)
- Pit Viper
- Various snakes found at zoos
1. Keep the person calm. Reassure them that bites can be effectively treated in an emergency room. Restrict movement, and keep the affected area below heart level to reduce the flow of venom.
2. If you have a pump suction device (such as that made by Sawyer), follow the manufacturer’s directions.
3. Remove any rings or constricting items, because the affected area may swell. Create a loose splint to help restrict movement of the area.
4. If the area of the bite begins to swell and change color, the snake was probably venomous.
5. Monitor the person’s vital signs — temperature, pulse, rate of breathing, and blood pressure — if possible. If there are signs of shock (such as paleness), lay the person flat, raise the feet about a foot, and cover the person with a blanket.
6. Get medical help right away.
7. Bring in the dead snake only if this can be done safely. Do not waste time hunting for the snake, and do not risk another bite if it is not easy to kill the snake. Be careful of the head when transporting it — a snake can actually bite for several hours after it’s dead (from a reflex).
We also offer a free certificate of completion. To receive the certificate you must pass a 50-question test with a score of 70 or higher. Check our Basic First Aid Certificate of Completion page for more information.