Preparing for a snakebite can literally be a matter of life and death. Many states in the U.S. have poisonous snakes in the wild and they that can also find their way into the home, especially when the weather cools. Snakes bite thousands of adults and children every year and many of these cases require emergency medical treatment.

Unfortunately, amateur methods of providing first aid treatment for a snake bite often does more harm than good. For example, the Journal of Emergency Trauma and Shock advises never to do the following things:[1]

  • Don’t cut the bite wound
  • Never try to suck the venom out
  • Don’t use a tourniquet on the limb
  • Icing to the affected area can delay proper treatment
  • Don’t compress the limb

Trying to use the above methods on a snakebite usually results in a delay in getting emergency medical treatment for a bite.

How can you prepare for a snakebite? Here are some helpful tips on what you need to know if you are bitten by a snake.

Call for medical help for any snakebite

First, you should call the emergency services as soon as possible to get the bite treated quickly. Venom can quickly destroy protein and fat under your skin and antivenom is needed to neutralize its effect.

Type of snake

Even if you don’t know what type of snake bit you, try to remember the color, size, and identifying marks of the snake. Don’t try to catch the snake.

Limit movement

Try to limit movement of the affected wound to help prevent the venom spread in your body. Some doctors recommend using a splint and bandage to prevent a limb from moving too much. However, you should not apply a lot of pressure with the bandage.

Remove jewelry

Venom can cause parts of your body to swell, so it is a good idea to remove all jewelry to prevent complications. If your finger that has a ring on it swells, doctors may have to cut the ring off to administer emergency treatment.

1. J Emerg Trauma Shock. 2008 Jul-Dec; 1(2): 97–105.