10 Steps for Surviving a Snakebite

These tips come from a sidebar to “Black Mamba: The Snake Charmer,” by Thea Litschka-Koen, published in the April 2010 issue of BBC Knowledge Magazine. It is used with permission from the author.

1. Back away from the snake to prevent it striking again.

2. Don’t panic. Easler said than done, but freaking out will only cause your heart to pump the venom faster around your body.

3. Call for emergency medical assistance immediately. If you have to travel to a hospital or doctor, phone ahead to pre-warn them so treatment can be ready as soon as you arrive.

4. Don’t attempt to catch or kill the snake. Identifying it may be helpful, but modem anti-venoms treat numerous venoms.

5. Sit or lie down, removing rings and other restrictive clothing or jewellery.

6. Wash the bite with soap and water.

7. Apply a broad pressure bandage to the affected area. Do not cut the blood off from the area. You should be able to slip a finger between the bandage and your skin.

8. Make sure that the bitten area is kept lower than your heart.

9. Don’t. try to suck venom out with your mouth. Suction devices are found in commercial snake bite kits.

10. If you are bitten while alone in the bush, make your way slowly but steadily to where you can call for help. If you have to drive, do so slowly, because your reactions may be Impaired by the effect of the venom.