There are hundreds of species of snakes around the world but only a low percentage of these are venomous.
Snake awareness is important in protecting you and your family from snake bites.
- Be aware of the dangers, know the signs of snakes and take steps to avoid them.
- ‘Proof’ your business, home and garden.
- Know the symptoms and appropriate treatment.
Types of Venomous Snake Bites
The recommended first aid for snake bites will also vary according to species.
Treatment for a snake bite is defined according to whether the venom is cytotoxic, haemotoxic or neurotoxic and the wrong treatment will not only be of little or no help but could even be dangerous.
- CYTOTOXIC - An agent or process that is toxic to cells and suppresses cell function or causes cell death.
- HAEMOTOXIC - An agent or process that kills red blood cells and prevents clotting resulting in internal and external bleeding.
- NEUROTOXIC - An agent or process that is destructive or deadly to nerves or nervous tissue.
Do's and Don'ts of Treating Snake Bite
Symptoms usually manifest soon after a snake bite, so observing the victim is extremely important.
If no symptoms have occurred within half an hour of the bite then indications would be that it was not a venomous snake, it failed to inject any venom or the snake was very old and had little or no venom left.
- Try to identify the snake; colour, size, shape of head, attacking method are useful.
- Loosen the Victim’s clothing and move them in to the shade.
- Keep the victim calm and still; movement will increase blood flow and transport the venom to the heart much faster.
- Immobilise the limb but do NOT restrict blood flow unless you are certain the bite was from a snake that delivers neurotoxic venom.
- Clean and dress the wound being careful not to apply pressure and cause bruising.
- Be prepared to administer CPR if necessary.
- Get the victim to a hospital quickly.
While there can be differences of opinion as to what we should do for snake bites the consensus of opinion as to what not to do is reasonably consistent:
- Allow the victim to exercise or stress themselves.
- Cut the bite or attempt to suck the venom out.
- Give the victim anything to eat or drink especially alcohol.
- Use potassium permanganate crystals or solution near or on the bite wound.
- Use soapy water round the bite wound.
- Leave pressure bandages on too long.
- Leave the victim alone.
- Apply ice to the wound.
- Soak the affected limb in any solutions.