It's that time of year again where snakes are out in force. As a licensed venomous snake handler I would like to give you a few tips about what to do if you encounter one or worse if you should happen to be bitten.
Firstly, if you are walking through long grass, walk with heavy steps. Snakes are deaf but sense vibrations through the ground very well from a distance. The key thing to know about snakes is that they are as scared of us as we are of them. If they detect you coming they will do everything they can (with the exception of death adders) to get away from your approach.
If you see one, avoid it. Ensure pets are restrained as they will be inquisitive and it's a story told too often of a beloved family pet being bitten because it saw something moving and went for a closer look. And vet bills are astronomical if they manage to even survive. Snakes will move away of their own accord if you are in the area.
Now to the worst case scenario... if you or anyone of your loved ones or friends should happen to be bitten...
Don't wash the bite! In the event that you can't identify the snake in question the hospital may use localised venom samples from the bite site to apply the correct antivenom.
Keep the victim as still and calm as possible.
Bites are usually a limb, typically a leg - keep it below heart level so that the venom has a more difficult path to travel.
Compression bandage the wound, starting at the bite and working up the limb it's full length then working back down the limb and beyond. Snake bite bandages can be purchased however if you don't have them even ripping up t-shirts etc and working them into a makeshift bandage can be enough to save a life. Don't cut off blood supply - no tourniquets! Just minimise the flow of blood by applying pressure to the site. See the illustration for correct procedure.
Apply a splint to further immobilise the affected limb.
Limit any physical movement to a minimum and wait for help.
If you can't visually identify the snake, take a photo but only if it is safe to do so. It will help with administering the correct antivenom.
Just remember - we have 7 of the top 10 most deadly snakes in the world here in our country. They don't want to bite you as it wastes venom that they need to kill their prey. They will only bite if feel threatened.
Stay safe in the bush everyone!