Rat­tlesnake Sea­son

Catron Courier - - Opinions & Editorials -

One of the haz­ards of living where we do is the oc­cur­rence of rat­tlesnakes. We don’t see them of­ten this far north, but ev­ery year some­one gets bit. Would you know what to do if you got bit? Most peo­ple to­day know not to “cut and suck” as we were taught years ago, yet you can still buy the same ol’ snake bite kit that pro­motes just that. When I see them in stores I don’t know whether to laugh or get an­gry.

So here’s a list of dos and don’ts as taught in the Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion First Aid classes.

Do get away from the snake im­me­di­ately.

Do call 911 im­me­di­ately— the sooner you get an­tivenom, the bet­ter, and this emer­gency prob­a­bly means a he­li­copter ride.

Do keep calm and still. Keep the bite area im­mo­bi­lized.

Do wash the wound thor­oughly.

Do re­move tight cloth­ing or jew­elry in case of swelling.

Do note the time of the bite.

Do mark on the skin the lead­ing edge of the swelling. If swelling pro­gresses, keep mark­ing it, not­ing the time of each new de­mar­ca­tion.

Do mon­i­tor breath­ing and pulse rate. Note any changes and re­port th­ese to the EMTs when they ar­rive.

Don’t cut the wound or try to suck out the poi­son. This is in­ef­fec­tive and could lead to in­fec­tion.

Don’t ap­ply ice to the wound. Cold can ac­tu­ally drive the poi­son deeper into the body.

Don’t ap­ply a tourni­quet above the bite. If your trip to the hos­pi­tal is go­ing to be pro­longed, EMTs may de­cide to ap­ply a com­pres­sion ban­dage.

Don’t get up and walk around un­less you are alone and can­not call for help with­out mov­ing to a dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tion.

Don’t drink al­co­hol to calm your nerves or de­crease the pain as this will in­crease your me­tab­o­lism and cause the poi­son to spread faster.

Don’t try to cap­ture or kill the snake. Physi­cians rarely need to know what kind of snake bit the vic­tim. The fangs will re­lease venom for many hours af­ter death and even a de­cap­i­tated head is very danger­ous.

Don’t de­cide to just drive your­self to the hos­pi­tal. An­tivenom isn’t avail­able at ev­ery hos­pi­tal. When you call 911, dis­patch starts call­ing to find out which hos­pi­tal has an­tivenom on that par­tic­u­lar day, and that’s where you will be taken—usu­ally by he­li­copter.

For­tu­nately, most bites are ‘dry’ bites. Adult snakes won’t waste their venom on some­thing that is too big to eat. Young snakes, how­ever, haven’t learned to con­trol their venom and will re­lease a full load with ev­ery bite, so be es­pe­cially cau­tious of young snakes. Even know­ing that many bites are dry bites, don’t take chances—call 911 any­way.

If your dog gets bit by a rat­tlesnake, fol­low the same di­rec­tions as above. Also, try giv­ing your dog Be­nadryl, 1 mg per pound, to help re­duce swelling and get to the vet as soon as pos­si­ble. The pe­di­atric liq­uid Be­nadryl is an easy way to dose your dog.

(Ed. Dogs can be given rat­tlesnake shots to help re­duce the dan­ger from snake bite re­ac­tions—see your vet about this. Also snake bite kits are use­ful for one thing—to pull out the an­ti­co­ag­u­lant a mos­quito in­jects which causes swelling and itch­ing.)

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