You’ve been bitten by a snake! No, it’s not likely you’ll die from the snakebite, although it could happen. But it’s going to be an incredibly frightening and inconvenient experience.
Of the 50-some species of snakes that make their homes in the U.S., only four are poisonous: rattlesnakes, cottonmouth moccasins, copperheads and coral snakes. These pit vipers, as they are called, and their subspecies bite about 8,000 people every year. About five percent of these people will die per year on average. For some of the survivors, the event is a minor setback after medical treatment and anti-venom serum. For others—with swollen, blackening limbs, nausea and vomiting, and breathing problems—it is a hellish descent, with the serum and hospital care saving their lives.
The best snakebite kit ever devised is probably not far from where you’re reading this. It’s a set of car keys. Some authorities recommend other procedures in drastic situations, but for most of us, these tips will serve you well.
➤ You can buy snakebite kits of several types on places like Amazon.com, but most authorities, including the renowned Mayo Clinic, recommend that you seek medical help immediately.
➤ Do not cut the wound, try to suck out the venom, use a tourniquet or ice, or try to kill the snake.
➤ Remain calm, position yourself so the bite is below the level of your heart, drive safely and without panic, and try to remember how to describe the snake.
This article originally published in AMERICAN FRONTIERSMAN® Issue #191. Print and Digital Subscriptions to AMERICAN FRONTIERSMAN® magazine are available here.
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