Venomous Snake Bites:  Here’s What To Do | Knowledge is Power

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by J.Adderton J.Adderton, BSN, MSN

Specializes in Clinical Leadership, Staff Development, Education. Has 29 years experience.

What would you do if you or someone else was bitten by a poisonous snake?  Read on to learn first aid tips that could save a life.

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RN-90

RN-90

Specializes in Womens health. Has 32 years experience. 3 Posts

Good directions.  Took me back to my first year as a nurse caring for a young man bitten by a rattle snake.  He and his buddies were camping (and drinking) when they heard a "rattlin' sound" so he stuck his hand in a wood pile to see what it was.  Bitten on wrist--entire arm swollen to shoulder by the time they got to hospital.

Brownelfin

Brownelfin, ADN

Has 4 years experience. 7 Posts

Just wanted to add, for outdoor lovers, that snakes are much more active and likely to bite in hot temperatures.  On a very hot day in August - temp in the nineties - my dog was bitten by a juvenile copperhead during a hike.  It was coiled under a large kudzu leaf.  The emergency vet stated that he had seen 5 other snake bites that week, and that they always increase in hot weather.

Hoozdo, ADN

Specializes in ICU, Research, Corrections. Has 15 years experience. 1,554 Posts

9 hours ago, Brownelfin said:

Just wanted to add, for outdoor lovers, that snakes are much more active and likely to bite in hot temperatures.  On a very hot day in August - temp in the nineties

Rattlesnakes do not like temps much over 95. They can't stand anything hotter and hang out in their holes. All bets are off if it rains though, they love the rain. 

I volunteer at a national monument in rattlesnake country in my spare time. I sometimes get involved in a on-going rattlesnake research study when a rattlesnake is caught at one of the 3 nearby national monuments. They are microchipped and released in a safe spot. Fascinating creatures.

 

BetterTomorrowThanToday

BetterTomorrowThanToday

Specializes in Flight/ICU-CCU/ER/Paramedic. Has 19 years experience. 16 Posts

A LOT of GREAT ADVICE on this thread. 

Want to add — 

PLEASE (for the love of 8#6oz baby Jesus) DO NOT capture the snake and bring with you to ED or give (in a coffee can ??‍♀️) to a flight crew.  We trust descriptions. Well, descriptions and clinical presentations. 
 

This, while it can be confirmatory to a point, it puts me ‘eye to eye’ with potential reptilian badness. And since I am not armed with my snake-killing shovel or .38 (well, as a rule — don’t want to give anything away here ?) it could go 15 ways on the way to really wrong.  
 

Seriously all, most everyone I’ve cared for in over 25 years with marked envenomation was altered (err... drink or maybe drinking in that direction). Same thing with Lion attacks, but I digress.  
 

Seriously kids, that snake DOES NOT love you. Please don’t try to kiss it. The relationship will end badly, as all relationships with SNAKES of any origin do. 

SmilingBluEyes

Specializes in Specializes in L/D, newborn, GYN, LTC, Dialysis. Has 25 years experience. 20,957 Posts

Very informative; thank you so much!

12 hours ago, RN-90 said:

Good directions.  Took me back to my first year as a nurse caring for a young man bitten by a rattle snake.  He and his buddies were camping (and drinking) when they heard a "rattlin' sound" so he stuck his hand in a wood pile to see what it was.  Bitten on wrist--entire arm swollen to shoulder by the time they got to hospital.

I am glad there is a cure for snake bite but you can't cure stupid, sadly.

HarleyvQuinn, MSN, RN, NP

Specializes in Primary Care, Military. Has 15 years experience. 200 Posts

23 minutes ago, SmilingBluEyes said:

Very informative; thank you so much!

I am glad there is a cure for snake bite but you can't cure stupid, sadly.

You can't cure it, but you can generally sedate and intubate it ?

Along with snakes, please don't bring spiders or any other creepy crawlies with you into the ER/Urgent Care/Office. Pictures are fine. Descriptions are fine. No need for all of us to have an emergency at once. ?

BetterTomorrowThanToday

BetterTomorrowThanToday

Specializes in Flight/ICU-CCU/ER/Paramedic. Has 19 years experience. 16 Posts

13 hours ago, SmilingBluEyes said:

Very informative; thank you so much!

I am glad there is a cure for snake bite but you can't cure stupid, sadly.

If we come up with a cure for stupid, ‘poof’ our business goes down by 30-40% (or more) in a POOF ??