The first step upon taking a snake bite is to identify the snake. Here are some hints to identify venomous snakes. If you did not get a good look at the snake, you can usually identify it by the wound. The classic 1-2 puncture wounds indicate a bite from a Pit Viper, while several tiny pin-pricks point towards a non-venomous species. A Pit Viper can sometimes (but rarely) leave up to 3 or 4 punctures because their 2 fangs might have been in the process of replacing themselves in cycles, like sharks. Do not go looking for the snake if you did not identify it. You are putting yourself at risk for another bite and it wastes valuable time. Most doctors can figure out what bit you depending on animal range.
The best tool for a venomous snake bite is a pair of car keys. The reason for the few fatal bites a year is because people delay treatment- intentionally or perhaps because they’re out a far distance from any antivenom. There is no other way to stop the venom than to get the victim to a hospital.
Venom is not like poison. It is more comparable to our own digestive enzymes. Venoms of the pit viper contain peptides and proteins. The venom leads to damage of vascular cells and red blood cells. It damages muscle and is responsible for tissue death. It might not kill you but it can certainly leave you lacking a finger or two. Coral snake venom is primarily a neurotoxin and can cause repiratory depression or arrest. Coral Snake venom is generally slower-acting than pit viper venom, but can kill 4 to 5 adults. Dry bites, bites without injected venom, account for about 20-30% of all snakebites.
Don’t wrap a band around the arm to restrict circulation- more people lose the limb to restriction of blood flow than the venom itself, it is safer to leave it off unless you are trained in a medical profession. It is better to have the victim lay down, if possible. A splint is important to immobilizing the extremity, but do not elevate above the heart. Try to keep them calm- this is near impossible, but try to keep in mind that very few people in the united states actually die from native snake bites. The estimated chances of dying from a snakebite in the outdoors is approximately 1:10 million.
Be aware of typcial signs of envenomation- bites by most pit vipers rapidly cause pain. Redness and swelling usually follow within 20 to 30 minutes and can affect the entire leg or arm within several hours. People bitten by a rattlesnake may experience tingling and numbness in the fingers and toes or around the mouth, and a metallic or rubbery taste.