As the population continues to grow throughout the Texas triangle and communities begin to stretch out into untouched areas, encounters with venomous snakes inevitably occur. The CDC estimates that 7,000–8,000 people per year receive venomous bites in the United States—of those only about five people die from the snakebite each year. The number of deaths would be significantly higher if medical care was not sought immediately following a bite. It is important to educate yourself, your children, and your colleagues about their risk of exposure to venomous snakes and how they can prevent and protect themselves from snakebites—as well as what they should do if they are bitten.
Prevention at home
Snakes are drawn to homes, in general, for the specific purpose of seeking food and/or shelter. Here are some tips to avoid encounters with snakes around your home:
- Keep your yard (and any barns, storage areas, and livestock sheds) as uncluttered as possible by clearing away undergrowth, toys, and tools that make great hiding places for snakes.
- Keep trash dumps, livestock pens, woodpiles, and brush piles as far as possible from the residence. Be extremely cautious when working in these areas.
- Quickly clean up any spilled food, fruit or birdseed, which can attract rats and mice—and therefore snakes—to your yard.
- Never put an arm or leg into an area if you cannot see the bottom.
- Overturned boats, tarps, or any debris that harbors a secluded space all provide excellent shelter and protection for transient snakes
- Keep walkways clear of brush, flowers and shrubs.
Prevention in the field
Venomous snakes are more common in rural areas of Texas—and a bite can potentially be much more dangerous the father from town you are. It is important for hunters, ranchers, hikers, rural residents, and others who frequent these areas to exercise caution:
- When walking your pet, keep him on a leash.
- Be very aware of where you’re putting your hands and feet. Take your time and don’t reach or step until you see the bottom.
- Animal burrows are a snake’s favorite hiding place. Never reach your hand it without checking first.
- Wear protective clothing, preferable heavy footwear and snake-proof pants, when working for long periods of time in rural areas.
- If you know a snake is nearby but can’t see it yet, FREEZE and allow the snake to retreat. If you spot the snake, slowing back away the same way you came.
Oh no, a snake has bitten you! If there is any suspicion the snake is venomous: Call 911 or get to an Emergency Center immediately—then:
- Move the victim beyond striking distance of the snake.
- Note the snake’s appearance since you’ll asked to describe the snake to emergency personnel. If you can’t identify the snake—don’t pursue it.
- Remove constricting clothing or jewelry surrounding the bite area and prevent movement, if possible.
- Keep the victim as still (and calm) as possible to prevent the venom from spreading.
- Have the victim lie down, with the wound above the heart.
- Wait for symptoms to appear if bitten—seek immediate medical attention
- Cut the wound
- Attempt to suck out the venom
- Give the victim caffeine or alcohol
- Apply a tourniquet, water, or ice