If someone you know is bitten by a snake, then they need immediate first aid treatment. Unfortunately, many people are still unfamiliar with snakes enough to tell the venomous snakes apart from non-venomous snakes. This is why all snake bites should be treated as venomous bites.
Immediate First Aid Tips for Venomous Snake Bites
Step 1. Have the person lay down and stay calm, call 000, then examine the snake bite – if the bite looks dry (dry bite) and no venom can be seen from the wound, then the only symptoms will be localised pain, swelling, and redness. Venomous snake bites will include symptoms such as dizziness, confusion, stinging and burning sensations around the skin of the wound, and nausea, to name a few readily identifiable symptoms. Severe snake bites can result in paralysis and even cause a person to go into a coma.
Step 2. Things not to do – despite what many people may believe, snake venom does not spread through the blood system, it is carried in the lymphatic system. Which is why you should not do the following:
- Don’t move a person bitten by a snake unless there is an immediate danger.
- Don’t try and suck venom from a snake bite.
- Don’t try and cut venom out of a snake bite.
- Don’t wash a snake bite.
- Don’t attempt to catch the snake to identify it.
Step 3. Things you should do – reduce lymphatic flow. You can do this by applying continuous pressure over the limb that has the bite, also known as Pressure Immobilisation Technique (PIT). To do this, use a broad elastic bandage with a minimum width of 7.5cm. Start at the toes or fingers of the limb with the bite, but leave the tips of the toes and finger out to monitor circulation. Compression bandages should cover the whole limb firmly enough to limit lymphatic movement, without restricting blood flow.
Step 4. Make a splint or sling to prevent movement of the limb – for snake bites to the leg you can strap the legs together as a natural splint, or you can make a splint to limit lymphatic movement in the arms.
Step 5. Mark the snake bite – after covering the limb that was bitten, use a marker or pen to mark the snake bite so that emergency medical service personnel can easily locate it when they arrive.
Step 6. Make the victim comfortable, keep them still and calm by reassuring them that emergency services are on the way.
At Black Snake Productions, we offer various services, such as snake removal, snake and spider safety seminars, and snake handling courses. Our blog also contains much helpful information about wildlife education and safety, with the goal of helping to educate people about conservation awareness and about Australia’s animals and their habitats.