Educate

Tips to avoid and survive snakebites

If you live in a country with venomous snakes or are travelling to one, here are a few tips to avoid being bitten.

– Do not provoke –

Snakes usually will not attack unless they feel threatened. In the bush, wear sturdy leather shoes and stomp heavily when walking, striking with a stick on the ground in front of you to warn any reptiles you are coming — they will most likely just slither away.

Most strikes occur when snakes feel cornered or under threat, or when people accidentally step on them.

– Be alert and prepared –

Outside, have a good look around you for snakes that may hang from tree branches or swim in water, and be careful when turning over rocks or other objects. And remember: snakes are evolved to be well-camouflaged in their environment, whether it be the desert, forest or bush

Thick, protective gloves are recommended for gardening and farming.

Carry a lamp at night.

Birds can help too: Many species possess an alarm cry to alert others of hidden danger.

Inside, check your bed and dark corners — snakes can enter homes in pursuit of prey, heat or water.

The neater your home, the more likely you will spot an out-of-place snake. A mosquito net around your bed can be an effective snake repellent.

– Once bitten –

If you or someone else is bitten, try and remember the colour and shape of the snake, and seek immediate medical care at a clinic or hospital.

Remove any bracelets, rings or watches that may hamper blood flow in case of swelling.

Do NOT try and catch the snake, apply a tourniquet, cut the wound, suck out the venom, or drink alcohol or coffee.

Also do not seek to inject your own antivenom, which can induce a violent allergic reaction and needs to be administered in a professional environment with adrenaline and oxygen on hand.

Sources: Doctors Without Borders, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health Action International, Bio-Ken research centre.

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Categories: Educate, TIPS, Travel

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