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Contrary to popular belief, most snake bites are completely harmless. Most species of snakes do not have venom, and their bites are often not even serious enough to break the skin. However, some snake bites can be life threatening.

Treating a snake bite:

  • Try to identify the type of snake that has bitten the child. If you have a camera phone with you, try to take a picture of the snake, so long as you can do so without getting within striking distance, which is approximately one to one and a half times its body length.
  • Wash the area with cool water.
  • If you believe the snake to be poisonous, call 911 immediately.
  • Clean the wound with a antibacterial soap.
  • Apply cold compress to the bite area.
  • Keep the victim as still as possible. Having the victim move and strain themselves will spread the venom more quickly. If you’re a long way from help, you might want to splint the limb.
  • For any non-venomous bite that breaks the skin, clean with soap and water or an antibacterial ointment. Consult a doctor to have them look over the bite if it swells or changes color.


How to recognize a venomous snake bite

A venomous snake bite will tend to have two distinct puncture wounds where the fangs entered, whereas bites from non venomous snakes are less pronounced, since they have ridges or rows of teeth that contact the skin more directly in more places all at once. You should also watch for swelling or skin coloring; quick swelling or discoloration is the tell-tale sign of invenomation.

Snake bite facts and statistics

* Rattle snake bites are reported by 1334 people a year on average in the US, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

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