What to do if bitten by a snake

    1. Call 911 immediately or go directly to the emergency room if there's even a remote possibility that the snake is poisonous. 
      Do not wait for symptoms to develop because once the symptoms start, they can progress very rapidly with some venom.(2)
    2. Try to remain calm
       Increased physical activity improves the flow of venom into the bloodstream. Keep in mind that even if the snake is venomous, a large number of bites from venomous snakes are "dry" (without venom), and even if the venom did penetrate, the death rate from a venomous snake bite is less than 1% when modern medical resources are used. So don't panic, just get immediate medical assistance.
    3. Make a mental note of the appearance of the snake
      Snake experts recommend not spending time trying to catch the snake to take it to the health care center. First of all, this may delay transportation to professional care, and also, the snake may bite again.
      1. Venomous snakes will leave two distinct puncture wounds, and non venomous snakes may leave marks more like scratches(6). See below for more important features to note.
    4. Remove any constricting clothing or jewelry on the bitten extremity
      Swelling can progress rapidly.
    5. Wash the bite thoroughly with soap and water.(2)
      Snake venom contains enzymes that can cause extensive local tissue damage.
    6. Immobilize the bitten area, if practical, and keep it slightly lower than the level of the heart.(2)

What not to do if bitten by a snake

Studies have found that these interventions can cause additional injury as well as delay transportation to professional medical care.(1)
  1. Do not apply ice
  2. Do not make an incision and suction.  A suction device may be placed over the bite to help draw venom out of the wound without making cuts. Suction instruments often are included in commercial snakebite kits. (2)
  3. Do not apply a tight tourniquet.  However, if a victim is unable to reach medical care within 30 minutes, a bandage, wrapped two to four inches above the bite, may help slow venom. CAUTION! The bandage should not cut off blood flow from a vein or artery. A good rule of thumb is to make the band loose enough that a finger can slip under it. (2)
  4. Do not eat, drink, or take any medication (1)
  5. Do not use electrical shock. There are absolutely no benefits to the recent theory that electrical shock (from stun guns or spark plugs) will help in the treatment of venomous bites. Laboratory tests have shown only deleterious results. 
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