#115 Snake Bites

Snakebites kill very few people in the United States.  Of the 8,000 people bitten annually in the U.S., fewer than 12 die.  If you are bitten by a snake, it is important to know whether or not the snake is poisonous.  There are four major kinds of poisonous snakes in North America: Rattlesnakes, Copperheads, Cottonmouths, and Coral Snakes.  Try to capture and kill the snake that bit you, or at least be able to describe it.

Poisonous Snakes.  The Rattlesnake, Copperhead, and Cottonmouth all have slit-like eyes with poison sacs behind them.  They also have long fangs.  The Coral Snake has rounded eyes, but has fangs like the other poisonous snakes.  Rattlesnakes have a characteristic rattle on the end of their tails.  Cottonmouths, also called Water Moccasins, have a white lining in their mouths, for which they are named.  A Coral Snake has red, yellow, and black rings and a black nose.

Treating a Snake BiteSend for medical help immediately!  Keep the part of the body bitten as still as possible and lower than the heart until medical help arrives.

If the victim is in a remote location and there is no chance of help reasonably soon, the following steps may be considered:  Wash the bite area with mild soap and water.  Do not use ice or cold compresses.  Immobilize the injured area, keeping it lower than the heart, if possible.  Immediately make a ¼ inch deep cut with a sterile blade through each fang mark in the direction of the length of the limb.  DO NOT make cross-mark cuts.  Draw out the venom with suction cups, or, in worse case, by sucking and subsequently spitting out the venom.  The victim must be given medical treatment as soon as possible.