How to Treat a Snakebite

Your adventure on the mountain has been cut short. As you carelessly walked wearing headphones amongst the trail, you failed to hear the ominous clicking sound of a rattlesnake.

The snake is offended; it feels that you have overstepped your boundaries and now you must suffer the consequences. It lunges at you and bites down hard on your calf as if to say, “We snakes have been oppressed for too long, not anymore, average hiker, not anymore.”

The venom has been injected into your veins and wishes to travel throughout your body; the clock is ticking. If left untreated the venom gets to do what it does best: destroy your insides. It could possibly ruin tissue and cause swelling, internal bleeding, and it will definitely cause intense pain. Some species, such as the Tiger Rattlesnake and the Mojave Rattlesnake additionally possess a neurotoxic component in their venom that causes paralysis and other nervous symptoms.

This situation could happen on any adventure around the world, here are some tips on how to treat a snakebite:

1. Call 911
If you’re lucky enough to have cell phone service, dial 911 immediately and move away from the snake. After calling and stating your emergency, you can then seek towards taking basic measures to care for your wound.

2. Stay calm
I agree, this is the last piece of advice you want to hear when your adventure’s taken a turn for the worst. Stay calm? That’s almost the same as doing nothing. However, in this case, doing nothing could save your life. Panicking increases your heart rate causing the flow of blood to the affected area to rise. This then increases the amount of toxin able to find its way into your tissues, where it will slowly devour you from the inside out.

3. Do not apply a tourniquet
A tourniquet is a tight encircling band applied around an arm or leg in an emergency to stop severe bleeding. Tourniquets are still helpful in some situations, but none of those involve snakebites. The use of a tourniquet will cause necrosis and in some cases, lead to eventual amputation. A substitution to the tourniquet could be wrapping an ace bandage tightly around the wound.

2. Snake - Clapway

4. Wear snake chaps
Either you look like a fool or you risk the potential of being bitten by a snake, your call.

5. Do not suck out the poison
You run the risk of infection. Also, snake venom moves quickly and efficiently through the lymphatic system, it is almost impossible to extract the venom in time.

If all hope is lost and there is no way out of your perilous adventure, I can only think of one thing to do as your last act as a human being on this earth. Kill the snake, get the last laugh.

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