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It’s not uncommon to hear of snake bites in Australia.
In fact, it would be strange if none were heard of. This is because 11 out of the world’s 12 most poisonous snakes live in the country.
In the true Australian spirit though, this does not to stop anyone from camping, bushwalking and experiencing the beauty of the outdoors. All you need to do is take precautions as there are ways of avoiding snake bites.
However, if prevention does prove impossible, one has to be armed with the skills and knowledge of first aid for snake bites. The treatment of snake bites can and will be handled by medical personnel, given that you have taken the first steps in taking care of the wound.
The faster the first aid is administered, the greater the chance of survival, especially if the snake’s venom was extremely poisonous.
I think we can all agree in this instance that prevention is much better than cure though. So, before learning about first aid, everyone needs to be armed with the knowledge of how to avoid snake bites.
Avoiding Snake Bites
Before going bushwalking or camping, it’s only wise (outside of holiday camping grounds) to do a little research about the snakes native to that area.
One needs to get familiar with the physical appearance of the snakes there, their habits, whether or not they’re poisonous and how to react in their presence.
Learning these few points will go a long way in avoiding snake bites.
#1. When walking, remember to be very careful when holding onto low branches. Snakes can climb trees, and it’s very easy to mistake a snake for a branch, earning yourself a nasty bite on the arm.
#2. By the same token, avoid dipping your hand into crevices or holes if you’re unaware of what’s inside. The crevice just might be home to a not so friendly snake and nobody likes intruders – we can all relate to that.
#3. Pitch tent in areas where snakes are less likely to be. By avoiding areas with very long grass, rocky areas low lying branches. If you did your research beforehand, you’d know where the snakes are most likely to be in the chosen area you’ll set up camp or are going to walk. Anything to avoid snake bites.
#4. Be cautious when swimming or fishing in lakes or rivers after heavy rains.
Simply, avoid the water snakes.Their bites can be lethal and leave you in dire need of help right after you’ve been bitten.
#5. Research has shown that 90% of snake bites are to the ankle. So if you are going walking in areas where snakes may be, make sure you ditch the thongs and where protective clothing such as boots and long trousers for your legs.
#6. In addition to this, avoid stepping over logs.
Rather, step on the log, because a snake might be lying on the other side enjoying the warm sun.
Would you like to be disrupted or stepped on whilst lying in the sun?
#7. When faced by a snake, you need to recall a few things.
The most important fact is that snakes do not hear the noise, they feel vibrations.
You need to restrict your movement, if you begin running or waving your hands around, the snake will interpret your actions as hostile ones and may launch an attack on you. If the snake already has its head raised, it probably is already getting ready to attack you.
#8. Keep in mind that snakes can attack from any position. Do not be fooled into thinking the snake looks too lazy to attack or its head is already raised, it can attack regardless. Do not be tempted to kill the snake as they’re protected by the law in most states in the country.
#9. Most importantly, be alert at all times.
It is best to avoid a snake, rather than having to treat snake bites. Snakes may be difficult to spot, but it does not hurt to have all your senses switched on all times while outdoors.
First Aid For Snake Bites
So, now you know how to avoid snake bites, however, it’s always best to know what to do in case the worst does happen.
Firstly, there are a few ways of knowing if a snake has bitten your campmate.
Their skin will have puncture marks where the snake struck them. This may be followed by possibly nausea, a headache, drowsiness or light-headedness. The person may also experience double vision or difficulty in focusing. A chest or abdominal pain and difficulty or inability to breathe might be experienced too as a consequence of the bite and the venom spreading.
You will need to curb this before the venom works its way the person’s heart. If your mate experiences these symptoms, you need to be as fast as possible in administering first aid for the snake bite.
First things, first, dial 000 as fast as possible and get the experts on site ASAP. After that you can conduct first aid. The method we describe is called the Pressure Immobilization Technique.
Pressure– a broad constructive bandage is applied to the affected area to reduce the spread of venom.
Immobilization– prevent movement of the affected area to lessen the spread of venom.
Step #1. You will need to apply a constrictive bandage starting at the bite site. Apply it tightly but not too tightly so as to restrict the flow of blood in the body. Ensure that the person’s limb does not go numb due to the tightness of the bandage.
Step #2. Work the bandage towards the heart, applying as much pressure as you would to a sprained ankle.
Step #3. Tie it as far up the limb as you can, still being very careful not to make it too tight.
Remember to leave the extremities of the affected limb exposed.
Step #4. Ask the casualty to remain calm and move as little as possible so as not to spread the venom.
Step #5. Over the bandage, apply a splint so as to immobilize the affected limb.
This method aims to slow down the movement of the venom of the heart.
Applying a tourniquet, in this case, is discouraged as is cutting or sucking the venom out of the wound. (This is real life it’s not a Hollywood movie!)
The above procedure should be enough to sustain your friend’s life until medical aid arrives, and they can administer a proper medical snake bite treatment.
Deaths caused from snake bites are much less common in Australia than they once were, because of greater access to and better anti-venom and a greater understanding of the Pressure Immobilization Technique – so make sure you are aware of how to avoid snake bites and what to do if one does happen. Snake bites treatment should be able to save the casualty’s life, but the magic is all in the first aid.
Australia may host the most venomous of snakes in the world in its backyard, but it still is possible to enjoy a safe camping or bushwalking experience. Just keep your eyes peeled, your senses alert and your first aid kits ready for anything.