FIRST AID TREATMENT FOR SNAKE BITE: DEFINITION, TYPE OF SNAKE BITES, DO’S AND DONT’S, HOW TO APPLY A PRESSURE IMMOBILISATION BANDAGE, PREVENTION ETC

 

FIRST AID TREATMENT FOR SNAKE BITE: Most snakes aren’t dangerous to humans. Only about 15% worldwide and 20% in the United States are venomous. In North America, these include the rattlesnake, coral snake, water moccasin and copperhead. Their bites can cause severe injuries and sometimes death.

TYPES OF SNAKE BITES

There are basically two different types of snake bites. And one is more serious than the other:

  • Dry bites: These occur when a snake doesn’t release any venom with its bite. As you’d expect, these are mostly seen with non-venomous snakes.
  • Venomous bites: These are much more dangerous. They occur when a snake transmits venom during a bite.

“Bites by venomous snakes can cause acute medical emergencies involving severe paralysis that may prevent breathing, cause bleeding disorders that can lead to fatal hemorrhage, cause irreversible kidney failure and severe local tissue destruction that can cause permanent disability and limb amputation.

It is also important to quickly rush a person bitten by a snake to the hospital to avoid orthopedic effects that could lead to complications and amputation of the limb.

“Normally, once a person is bitten by a snake, the limb is swollen. So, as you tie it, it becomes more swollen and blood will not flow into the limb and the limb will die. And once the limb is dead, it will need an amputation.

 

SYMPTOMS OF VENOMOUS SNAKE BITES

Venomous snakes have two fangs that deliver venom when they bite. A venomous snakebite will usually leave two clear puncture marks. In contrast, a nonvenomous bite tends to leave two rows of teeth marks.

 

It can be difficult to tell the difference between puncture wounds from venomous and nonvenomous snakes. People should seek medical attention for all snakebites.

 

The typical symptoms of a venomous snakebite include:

 

Two puncture wounds, Swelling and pain around the bite area, Redness and bruising around the bite area, Numbness of the face, especially in the mouth, Elevated heart rate, Difficulty breathing, Dizziness, Weakness, Headaches, Blurred vision, Excessive sweating, Fever, Thirst, Nausea, Vomiting, Diarrhea, Fainting, Convulsions etc.

 

DO’S (what to do when bitten by a Snake):

  • Move beyond the snake’s striking distance.
  • Remain still and calm to help slow the spread of venom.
  • Remove jewelry and tight clothing before you start to swell.

 

Apply a pressure immobilization bandage and splint

Most snakebite occurs on a limb, so legs, feet, arms and hands are most commonly affected. If you’ve been bitten on a limb, applying a pressure immobilization bandage can stop the venom moving through your lymphatic system.

 

What to do

If you’ve got a pad or even a piece of plastic like cling wrap, put it over the bite site to either soak up or protect the venom for later testing.

How to apply a pressure immobilization bandage step by step:

  • Use an elasticized roller bandage (pressure bandage) that is 10-15cm wide.
  • Roll bandage firmly over bite site.
  • Apply a second elasticised roller bandage to immobilise the whole limb, starting just above the fingers or toes and moving upwards on the bitten limb as far as the bandage will reach. It should be applied very firmly and you should not be able to easily slide a finger between the bandage and the skin. The idea is that it is tight enough to reduce lymphatic movement, but not constrict blood flow. (This is why you should leave the fingers or toes unbandaged—so you can monitor their colour and blood circulation).
  • If you don’t have a bandage handy, any stretchy material will do (torn up t-shirts, stockings or other fabric can be used as a bandage)
  • Once the bandage is on, mark the bite site on the bandage with a pen or other substance that will leave a mark – if you’ve got nothing else on you, putting a little mud or dirt on the bandage will work. Then, splint the limb to keep it still. Any straight object will do – a stick, rolled up newspaper or even firmly rolled up clothes or tarps can all work. Fix the splint in place by securing it to the limb with bandages or other material.
  • If you’ve been bitten on your head, neck or torso, you don’t need to put on a pressure immobilization bandage.

 

DONT’S (WHAT NOT TO DO AFTER A SNAKEBITE)

  • The first thing that should not be done after a person is bitten by a snake is tying something tight around the limb.
  • Do not pick up the snake or try to trap it. NEVER handle a venomous snake, not even a dead one or its decapitated head.
  • The practice of cutting the bite mark of a snake with a razor blade should be discouraged It has been found to introduce infection.
  • The practice of sucking the venom by mouth is also discouraged. It doesn’t really help because the venom can enter the mouth of the person trying to suck it.
  • Do not wait for symptoms to appear if bitten, get medical help right away.
  • Don’t drink caffeine or alcohol, which could speed your body’s absorption of venom
  • Do not apply a tourniquet.
  • Do not apply ice or immerse the wound in water.
  • Do not drink alcohol as a painkiller.
  • Do not take pain relievers (such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen).
  • Do not apply electric shock or folk therapies.

 

PREVENTION OF SNAKE BITE

How can you stop snakebite from happening?

Depending on where you live (or choose to vacation), you may or may not have a hard time avoiding snakes. But if you’re going to be in snake territory, there are some useful tips to avoid getting bitten:

  • Always be careful where you put your hands and feet. Don’t reach into unknown spaces and holes, or underneath objects without first being sure a snake isn’t hiding underneath.
  • Don’t lie down or sit down in areas where there might be snakes.
  • Wear high-top leather boots when walking through or working in areas with dense vegetation.
  • Do not attempt to capture, handle or keep venomous snakes.
  • If you’re going camping, take extra care around swamps and other places where snakes typically live.
  • If you come across a snake, slowly back away from it and avoid touching it.