Rattlesnake Bite First Aid
First aid can be helpful before medical help arrives. People bitten by a poisonous snake should be moved beyond the snake’s striking distance, kept as calm and still as possible, and taken to the nearest medical facility immediately. If a victim is unable to reach medical care within 30 minutes, the American Red Cross recommends:
• Apply a bandage, wrapped two to four inches above the bite, to help slow the venom. This should not cut off the flow of blood from a vein or artery – the band should be loose enough to slip a finger under it.
• A suction device can be placed over the bite to help draw venom out of the wound without making cuts. These devices are often included in commercial snake bite kits.
• Rings, watches, and tight clothing should be removed from the area of the bite.
• Wash the bite with soap and water.
• Immobilize the bitten area and keep it lower than the heart.
• Cover the area with a clean, cool compress or a moist dressing to minimize swelling and discomfort.
• Monitor vital signs.
• Alcohol and caffeine should be avoided.
While each individual may experience symptoms differently, the following are the most common symptoms of poisonous snake bites:
• bloody wound discharge
• fang marks in the skin and swelling at the site of the bite
• severe localized pain
• blurred vision
• excessive sweating
• increased thirst
• loss of muscle coordination
• nausea and vomiting
• numbness and tingling
• rapid pulse
Most often, physicians use antivenin — an antidote to snake venom — to treat serious snake bites. Almost everyone bitten by a poisonous snake survives if treated early with appropriate amounts of antivenom