Snakes have always been a sign of awe and danger, but in India, there are a lot of snake bites that happen mostly in rural areas and expose a need for most of the commoners to know the procedure for first aid and emergency protocol to be followed if and when one encounters a snake bite.

Although not all snakes are venomous and not all snake bites are lethal, although it is at recommended to visit a hospital in both cases to make sure that the right treatment is given. Snake venom majorly falling into these categories: hemotoxic – prevents blood clots, neurotoxic – affects the nervous system directly.

Snake bites typically are identified with the puncture wounds, pain at the site of the bite, swelling, and loss of breath.

Now coming to the point of first aid:

  • Move the person affected to an area away from the snake, so that the possibility of another bite is mitigated.
  • If the snake is still around, please do not try and let commoners try and snoop around and find the snake/ identify the snake – since there may be more snake bites in the process. Remember the snake bite is the snake’s emergency escape mechanism coming into play.
  • Keep the person calm, the biggest threat to a person with a snake bite is the rising panic that can increase the heart rate and make the venom reach the entire body.
  • Wash the area of the bite with water and keep it clean.
  • Keep the area of the bite lower than the heart.
  • Call the emergency medical services if the origin of the snake is known to be poisonous or help them provide a description of the snake without going after it oneself, this is given so that the hospital can be ready with an anti-venom needed to nullify the effect of the snake bite.

Normally in case of snake bites inflicted by non-venomous snakes, the doctors shall give a tetanus injection if it has not been previously administered in the last five years prior to the injection, in case of the venomous snake causing the snake bite an anti-venom that can act against the venom is given.

It is suggested to treat every snake bite as a venomous snake bite and provide the basic first aid to the person affected and help them get the right treatment at hospitals rather than by doing these things that are not recommended to be done.

  • Do not use a tourniquet, although it was a much prevalent practice before, it can cut off the blood supply to that region and cause further side effects.
  • Do not try and burn the area affected nor apply ice packs to the affected area.
  • Do not try and provide a shock to the person as this can cause side effects.
  • Do not try and cut open the wound and try to suck the venom out, these techniques are rather ineffective and cause further infections.
  • Do not provide them with any hot beverage or alcohol to drink.
  • Do not use suction devices to suck away the venom as they can provide no relief to the patient or effectively suck the venom away as well.

It is estimated that over 46000 deaths occur in India alone due to snake bites since we are a predominantly agricultural economy and snakes are visitors of the farmland, there is a large number of deaths since the treatments are ignored or local medicine from mendicants are used.

Also Read: Importance of First Aid

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