UPDATE FROM SFHEALTH
Help! help!! help me, I've been bitten by a snake, Chris screamed. Chris has just been bitten on his leg by an African puff adder, he is running very fast calling for help, his heart beating very fast, he's sweating and scared if he's going to die.
Chris was lucky, very lucky. Help came quickly. Some farmers who were busy on their farms heard his loud screams and dashed towards his direction.
They located the area of the snake bite, tied his leg quickly with his singlet (a common mistake) and rushed him quickly to the local hospital few meters from the spot he got the deadly snake bite where an antivenom injection was administered on him.
However, some other people have not been so lucky as cases of snake bites sometimes leads to death, loss of limbs, complicated health issues,etc. Most of this complications arises from failure of getting adequate help on time or knowing what do when one is bitten by a snake.
The knowledge of snakebite first aid can be the difference between death and survival for a person that has been bitten by a snake.
What to do if you get bitten by a snake?
1. Never get bitten in the first place:
You should always be aware of your surroundings and environment. Know where snakes hangout and try to avoid such places. Snakes are cold-blooded reptiles that raise their body temperature by lying in the sun or lower it by crawling into the shade, so a sunny weather is always a good time for them to come outside of their hiding place to bask under the sun. In a snake prone environment, wandering inside the bushes during this period could prove very fatal.
Also, it's important to know that snakes like cooling off in tall grasses, weeds,leaf litters, under the rocks, firewoods, ledges and some species like to stay in the water too, so it's important to be safety conscious in areas like this and avoid contact with snakes as they have no interest in biting you unless you pose a threat.
Stepping on a snake, sticking your hand or foot into a crevasse or hole, poking at it with a stick or attempting to play with it is enough for a snake to take a defensive and striking position against you.
But then, mistakes do happen and you might still get bitten even after being very careful and trying to avoid a snake bite. If you get bitten, do this:
2. Don't panic, become angry or try to run after the snake as this might be a costly mistake.
Panic can lead to shock and shock kills faster. Running after the snake might make the venom to circulate quickly. Instead, quietly walk backwards and sit down slowly. This safety measure is to make sure that you don't faint, fall down and hit your head or injure yourself on a tree or stone as a result of the venom causing your blood pressure to drop.
If you do faint, it shouldn't take few minutes for you to be cognizant again.
3. Remove rings, bracelets, watches and anything that could form a tourniquet.
You probably might have been taught or told to taught to cut the snake bite wound with an X, then suck out the blood and the venom, or to cut lines parallel to the bite marks and apply a tourniquet - tying the area with a clothe, rope, ribbon etc. This is Infact the worst thing to do.
You see, Venom doesn't travel through the blood stream. It travels through the lymphatic system. This is a network of ducts in the body that drains tissue fluid back toward the heart. It is separated from blood circulation is therefore not pumped by the heart.
Rather the lymphatic system has valves so the flow only travels in a uni direction and the compression of the lymphatic vessels comes from the movement of muscles.
This is why it's a wrong decision to cut the wound or try to suck out the venom since it's not in the blood stream. Tying a tourniquet means stopping blood flow and stopping blood flow means killing the limb.
Also, the tourniquet will allow the venom to concentrate in a particular area and this restriction will cause destruction to the flesh and tissue.
4. Try to stay calm for atleast 3-5 minutes. This will give you ample time to calculate and think of evacuating yourself and getting yourself out of the situation.
Do you have a cell phone with a good signal? Yeah great. You should try calling out for help.
While making the phone call, try to stay focus and calm. If you can remember and paint a clear picture of the snake that bit you, try informing the person you're calling about it and request that help should come immediately.
If you're calling 911 or any emergency number, try to tell them your name, who you are, where you are, how you're feeling, what happened to you.
Do not try to take any drugs that is with you at that moment. A wrong first aid in the case of a snake bite is worst than no first aid in the long run.
If you're not with your cell phone or there's no signal in that area, try to shout for help. Chances are that another person might be closeby to help and convey you as soon as possible to the nearest clinic or hospital where you'll be administered an antivenom.
If help does not come, try to see what options you have to either get yourself to help or get help to you. Plan the easiest way or route to take to reach where you can see someone or a lot of people.
Do whatever it takes to get out alive and in one piece without taking too much risk. Do not let the fear of raising your heart rate and increasing the speed of the venom circulation to prevent you from physically moving to get immediate care.
5. Avoid going to any place apart from the hospital or clinic that has an antivenom.
Don't go to any place or allow anybody that'll try to use crude, archaic or bad practices methods like cutting around the site of the bite, applying tourniquets to the affected area and attempting to suck out or neutralize the venom using electricity, fire or heat, black stones, magic,mud, animal dung, leaves, permanganate, ground dried snakes and insets, etc.
Stay safe and try to keep your surroundings free from snakes. Also, always remember not to stray into snakes prone areas or where snakes are likely to rest or hangout.
Thanks for reading and see you some other time. Have a great day.