Australia is home to some of the world’s most venomous snakes, making encounters with these reptiles a potential hazard for outdoor enthusiasts and residents alike. While snake bites are relatively rare, knowing how to respond to such an emergency can mean the difference between life and death. In this blog post, we’ll discuss essential first aid tips for dealing with a snake bite in Australia.
1. Stay Calm:
- In the event of a snake bite, it’s crucial to remain calm. Panicking can increase heart rate and circulation, potentially spreading venom more quickly throughout the body.
- Encourage the victim to stay calm and reassure them that help is on the way.
2. Call Emergency Services:
- Dial emergency services (000 or 112) immediately to seek professional medical assistance.
- Provide the dispatcher with your exact location and any relevant information about the snake, if possible.
- Better yet, download the Emergency+ app. This government-created app provides quick access to emergency services numbers, including police, fire, and ambulance, depending on the user’s location within Australia. When activated, the app uses GPS technology to provide precise location information to emergency services operators. This can be crucial in situations where the caller may not know their exact location or is in a remote area.
3. Keep still:
- Encourage the victim to lie down and remain still to minimise the spread of venom.
- Keep the affected limb immobilised and below heart level to slow the circulation of venom.
4. Apply Pressure Bandage:
- If available, apply a pressure bandage to the affected limb. Start wrapping from the hand (for an arm bite) or the foot (for a leg bite) and continue wrapping up the limb, covering the entire area.
- The bandage should be firm but not too tight, similar to wrapping a sprained ankle. This helps restrict the flow of venom through the lymphatic system.
- If you are the victim of a snake bite, avoid wrapping your own bandage as it can cause excessive movement and worsen the spread of venom. Instead, lay down and keep completely still while you wait for emergency services.
5. Seek Medical Attention:
- Even if the snake bite seems minor or if there are no immediate symptoms, it’s crucial to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
- Snake venom can cause severe tissue damage, internal bleeding, and other life-threatening complications if left untreated.
6. Monitor Vital Signs:
- Keep a close eye on the victim’s vital signs, including their breathing, pulse, and level of consciousness.
- Be prepared to administer CPR if necessary.
What NOT to do if you are bitten by a snake
- Attempt to suck out venom or make incisions around the bite site.
- Apply a tourniquet, as this can worsen tissue damage and increase the risk of complications.
- Wash the bite site, as the venom may be needed for identification by medical professionals.
Encountering a snake and experiencing a snake bite can be a frightening experience, but knowing how to respond can significantly improve the outcome. Remember, prevention and awareness are key to staying safe in snake-prone areas, so always remain vigilant when exploring the great outdoors.