How to Survive Snake Bite

Australia is coming into summer and snake encounters increases during the warmer months as the slithering kind come out in force to sun bathe. It is important to know what to do when bitten by a snake when you are in the wild and far from a hospital to improve your chance of survival or losing a limb for that matter.

Contrary to popular beliefs, snake venom are deposited into the lymphatic system and not the blood stream. And lymphatic fluid unlike blood, is not circulated by the heart but by muscle movement. Hence, if you are able to keep still, you're more likely to survive a snake bite by limiting the effects of the venom to only around the bite area. But keeping still only works if you're bitten somewhere ambulance accessible and you have mobile coverage.

So what should you do if you are bitten out in the wild, where there is no mobile coverage and you are all alone? Where the only way to get help is to hike back out to where you can find other people or get mobile coverage?

Do:

1. Call for an ambulance immediately if possible. And if you are with someone, the person who is bitten should lie down immediately and let the other person get help.

2. Apply a firm bandage over the bite area, preferably use a broad bandage.

3. Bandage the whole limb (fingers to shoulder or toes to hip) using a elasticized bandage.

4. Apply splint to limit limb mobility.

pressure immobilization technique

Don't:

1. Try to suck or cut and bleed out the venom.

2. Apply a tourniquet. (Note: The bandaging should be firm but not restricting. Venom that is concentrated will rapidly destroy cells and by allowing minor dilution of the toxin actually reduces damage. Seems counterproductive but true.)

3. Try to catch or kill the snake.

Pressure-immobilization is recommended for:

1. Snake bites

2. Blue-ring octopus stings

3. Funnel web spider bites

4. Cone shell stings

Not recommended for:

1. Other spider bites

2. Stings from other marine life

3. Insect stings

Prevention is better than cure, wear pants and tall hiking boots or gaiters if possible. Take caution when walking through tall grassy areas and empty out boots before putting them on when camping.


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