Australia is home to all sorts of wildlife, spiders and snakes being the most common ones. These venomous animals can be found all over the country, and you don’t need to venture into the dense bush to be at risk of getting a bite. Suburban homes near bush reserves, sand dunes and lakes often report the presence of these animals in their yards. According to research, more than half of the snake bite deaths were between 2016 and 2020, hence the importance of knowing what to do in case you get bitten or stung.
With that said, it’s important to know how to treat a spider and a snake bite as well as have a snake bite first kit aid handy at home. Having some first aid knowledge and basic equipment can help ensure you survive the bite.
Snake Bite First Aid Kits
Also called snake bite bandage kits, these kits are the best insurance policy for surviving a bite from a snake. If you are wondering where to buy snake bite bandages, they can be easily found at specialized local and online stores. Look for a kit that you can easily carry around with you. You should also add one of these kits to your outdoor equipment when camping or hiking in the wilderness.
Your snake bite first aid kit should include at least two large width bandages, a marker pen, a thermal reflective blanket and a treatment of a bite information sheet.
How to Bandage a Snake Bite?
The most important step in providing first aid to snakebite victims is applying a compression bandage. Here is how it should be done.
- Apply an elasticised bandage (10-15cm wide) over the bitten part as soon as possible. Make sure it’s tight that a finger can’t be easily slipped under the bandage. When shopping for snake bite bandages, keep in mind that elasticised bandages are better than crepe bandages. In case bandages aren’t available, use clothing or material.
- To restrict lymphatic flow and keep the limb immobilized, apply another pressure bandage from the extremity as far up the limb as possible. Attach a splint to both sides of the limb.
- If only one bandage is available, use it to apply pressure and as an immobilization bandage to the full length of the limb.
This video shows you how to apply a bandage correctly: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnOeiMa8mMc
Some people can experience a severe allergic reaction after being bitten by a snake. Their body can start to react to the bite within minutes, which can lead to anaphylactic shock. This is a very serious condition that can be fatal. Symptoms of anaphylactic shock include a swollen tongue, difficulty breathing, swelling or tightness in the throat, persistent dizziness or collapse, being pale or floppy, abdominal pain or vomiting and wheeze or persistent cough. For this reason, always call triple zero (000) for an ambulance in case someone around you get bitten by a snake. They will know how to handle the situation.
Things You Shouldn’t Do After a Snake Bite
Just as it’s important to know what to do after a snake bite it is what NOT to do. The first thing you should avoid is panicking. The faster your heart beats, the quicker the venom will get around the body. Also, try to stay as still as possible. This means, don’t run. Years ago people would cut the area of a snake bite and try to suck out the venom – this is not recommended! Always bandage and immobilise. Don’t apply a tourniquet. Make sure a wide bandage is used. Last but not least, don’t try to catch the snake. If possible, take a photo or leave it to the medical staff to identify.
How Much Time Do You Have to Get Anti-Venom?
When compression bandages and immobilization are used, most snakebite victims can go for four hours without anti-venom. There are cases of victims who arrived at the hospital as late as eight hours (due to their location) after a bite from a venomed snake still showing no symptoms. When bandages are done properly, they slow the lymphatic fluid to a standstill that the venom doesn’t circulate the body. However, the most venomous brown snake can cause a patient to deteriorate within five minutes of the bite and die within 30 minutes of cardiac depression without treatment.
How to Reduce Your Risk of Snake Bite?
The majority of fatal bites occur on the floor or ankle and can be prevented by wearing closed-in shoes. That is because brown snakes have small 3mm fangs. The bites also tend to occur during the warmer months of October to May, when snakes are most active. Although snakes are often well camouflaged and difficult to see, you still need to be vigilant for them by looking where you walk.