With the return of the warm summer sun comes the return of potentially venomous snakes. If you live in or are visiting an area known for its deadly snakes this summer, you will want to be careful and armed with the knowledge of how to protect yourself from them.
Obviously, the best way to not get harmed or end up needing to take care of a snake bite is to avoid getting bitten. By being mindful of your environment and knowing where the snakes local to the area tend to hang out, you can ensure you’ll avoid them. You’ll also want to learn when they are the most active. Let’s use rattlesnakes as an example. According to Outdoor Life, rattlesnakes typically hibernate from October to March. They emerge from their dens and begin to slither around when average daytime temperatures reach 60 degrees F. When hiking, turkey hunting, or shed hunting in the spring, keep your eyes peeled and your guard up all day long. Be especially alert on south-facing trails and ridges. Snakes stretch out on rocks in the midday sun when temperatures are cool. In late spring and early summer, rattlesnakes become active when temperatures are around 75 to 85 degrees F. On hikes in May and June, be on the lookout for snakes slithering around all day long. If it’s the warmest part of the day in summer, snakes tend to seek solace in the shade.
Knowing basic information about the snakes in your are can help you become aware of how they may be acting on that particular day so you can avoid them.
When you are hiking, try to stay on a trail as much as possible. Even though you may still encounter a snake, it is less likely than coming across one if you wander off the beaten path. I know, it’s not as fun. But a bite from a venomous snake will ruin even the happiest person’s day…or week. You should also avoid tall grass because it’s incredibly appealing to snakes. Snakes also tend to hide under rocks and logs. Be careful as you approach either and keep your eyes open. Snakes are very quiet, making situational awareness key to avoiding them.
You should also use extreme caution when rock climbing. Because, as mentioned before, snakes like hiding under rocks or in dark nooks and crannies, you will want to actually check before putting your hand or foot in a hole or a gap in the rock.
Inevitably, sometimes you will just come across a snake. But there are things you should do and things you should avoid doing to prevent getting bitten.
GEAR TO CONSIDER
If you know you’ll be outside in an area where venomous snakes roam, consider ramping up your snake gear game. Wear high-top boots with snake gaiters or thick wool outer-socks, and pull them high and tight up your calves. Take a trekking pole with you. This will be useful if you come across a snake and become startled. It will help you regain your balance and can be used to make noise that snakes dislike (as mentioned below).
What To Do And What NOT To Do If You Come Across A Snake
DO NOT engage a snake. This goes for all snakes, even those who you believe may not be venomous.
DO walk away. If you can turn around calmly and go back the way you came, do so. If you cannot, give the snake a wide berth keeping your eye on it as you move slowly put deliberately away from it.
DO NOT to panic and try to stay calm and collected. Sudden movements could attract the snake’s attention, especially since it wasn’t looking for you, you both just happened to cross paths. Don’t just make jerky movements, make sounds.
DO make a lot of noise. Yell loudly at the snake to go away. Snakes don’t have ears, but they are sensitive to the vibrations you can make. Try banging sticks or rocks or your trekking pole together. This will irritate the snake and it will attempt to flee from what is causing the vibrations that it’s bothered by.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU GET BITTEN BY A SNAKE
If you happen to get bitten by a venomous snake, do not panic. Stay calm and try to keep any victims of a snake bite calm. Don’t move around. Moving helps the venom spread through your body. Keep calm and stay still. Call 911 immediately. If you don’t have a phone or don’t have any service, hopefully, you have a first aid kit on hand.
Make sure you remove any rings, clothing, or jewelry near the bite first. You’ll want those off when the swelling increases. Gently clean the wound with water, but don’t flush it out. Don’t try to suck the venom out either. Apply compression bandages as you would with a sprained wrist or ankle. Go 4 inches above the bite. Don’t make the bandages too tight, but you don’t want them to fall off. Don’t apply a tourniquet. You will need to get to a medical professional as soon as possible to be given antivenom and for additional treatment.