Snakes & Scorpions - Preventing & Treating Bites
The danger of Snakes and Scorpions is another case of human exaggeration and paranoia. Deaths due to Snake or Scorpion bites are very rare. This irrational fear of Snakes has led to many innocent and often non-poisonous Snakes being killed on sight. In general, Snakes and Scorpions only attack if you disturb and startle them. Snake and scorpion bites are seldom fatal but can be extremely painful. There are roughly two types of poison:
- Neurotoxins: paralyze your muscles. These are very dangerous as they can paralyze your heart and respiratory muscles.
- Digesting Toxins: are used by Snakes to soften up the prey and make it easier to digest. These venoms can cause serious tissue damage.
Some Snakes have venoms that combine both effects.
Avoiding Snake & Scorpion Bites
- Wear high boots and long pants in places where you suspect that there could be Scorpions or Snakes.
- Use a stick and tap the ground in front of you if you suspect the presence of Snakes. This will minimize the chances of you sneaking up on a snake.
- If a snake lashed you but did not hit you, make sure to check your boots and clothing for possible broken teeth. Snake teeth can still poison you even if they are broken off and stuck in the leather of your boot.
- In places that inhibit Scorpions and spiders, make sure to check your boots before sticking your bare feet in.
- Take antivenins with you only after consulting your doctor. Many people are allergic to many antivenins which in turn cause even more complications than an actual snake bite.
Treating Snake Bites
- Remain calm. Most people get hysterical when they are bitten by snake as they expect to die at any moment. Getting excited will only cause the venom to spread through your body more rapidly. If you are hyperventilating, use a bag or cup your hands in front of your mouth to bring carbon dioxide levels back to normal. Settle down, you are not dead yet!
- Try to identify the snake or at least note down the snake's characteristics. This information will help medical personnel in your treatment. You do not have to kill the snake and bring it with you. This would just increase the chance of more bites. But if you already killed the snake in your panic reaction, then you might as well bring it with you.
- Rinse the bitten area with water.
- Closely examine the bite and check if it has actually caused venom to enter your body. The fangs of a snake leave bigger and deeper marks than its other teeth. Signs of poisoning:
- Within 5-10 minutes: the poison will cause a fiery, circulating pain and swelling around the bitten area.
- Within 30-90 minutes: numbness, tingling, and/or muscle twitches may occur.
- Within two hours: weakness, headache, nausea, vomiting, fainting, and/or increased heart and breathing rate.
- If you have a venom suction device, use it as soon as possible. If applied quickly, it can remove up to one third of the venom. If you do not have one, do not suck out the poison with your mouth!
- Do not apply a tourniquet.
- Do not cut around the wound.
- If a hospital can be reached within a period of 1-2 hours then it is safe to walk out and go to the hospital. In general, try to move the stricken body part as little as possible so use a sling for your arms. If you have been stricken in your leg, do not run but make your way to your car or the hospital in a normal tempo.
These are the basic things you need to know about Snake and Scorpion Bites. Take note that it is essential to have at least the basics of First Aid knowledge and training if you are engaged in Outdoor Activities such as Hiking so you will know what to do in case you need to administer First Aid.
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