Snakes alive! – be prepared this summer

November 1, 2008

The Ambulance Service of NSW would like to remind everyone of the need to keep an eye out for snakes this summer.

We have had our first snake bite case for the season, with a man being bitten by a brown snake just this week.

Snakes enjoy the warm weather as much as we humans do. They also like to laze in the sun and unfortunately many of them have colours and patterns that make them difficult to see.

Ambulance recommends the following precautions be taken to reduce the risk of snake bite:

• If you come across a snake, leave it alone and walk away. A snake will usually not bite unless it feels threatened.

• Never touch or attempt to catch snakes.

• Wear sensible, closed-in footwear when in high-risk areas.

• Be very vigilant and watch where you are walking when in areas that snakes may inhabit.

• When bushwalking remain on clearly defined designated tracks.

If someone is the victim of a snake bite, call triple zero and ask for Ambulance, remain on the line whilst details of the incident are obtained and an Ambulance is dispatched. It is important to stay calm!

Paramedics offer the following tips to reduce the severity of the snake bite:

• If it is safe to do so, remove the patient from risk of further injury or bites. Do not attempt to catch the snake!

• Once both you and the patient are safe, apply a pressure bandage over the bite site and then wrap the bandage up the limb.

The bandage should not cut off circulation; it should be about the same pressure that you would apply to a sprained ankle.

• A crepe roller bandage, as used by paramedics and available at all chemists, is the best item for use as a pressure bandage however in the bush you may need to improvise. You may need to use more than one bandage.

• If the bite is not on a limb, apply direct, firm pressure to the bite site with your hands.

• Keep the patient still and discourage them from walking around. If the bite is on a limb, splint the limb to stop any movement.

• Never cut or excise the wound. Do not attempt to suck the venom out.

Do not apply a tourniquet, as this may complicate the injury.

Ambulance recommends that all persons undertake a first aid course with an accredited agency, particularly if you are regularly involved in outdoor activities.