Surviving a rattlesnake bite


Rattlesnakes are among the most dangerous animals you can encounter during a hike. These creatures, while incredibly reclusive, balance their timidness with a highly venomous bite that can quickly spell the end for those caught in its embrace. There are roughly 8,000 venomous snake bites each year in United States, and if you find yourself in such a scenario, time is of the essence as you fight for survival. However, you will also need to handle your situation delicately.

Here are a few tips for surviving a rattlesnake bite.


Take preemptive measures


The best way to survive a rattlesnake bite is to never get bitten to begin with; this means taking necessary precautions and educating yourself on snake behavior.


As mentioned earlier, rattlesnakes are generally shy creatures that simply want to be left alone. While you may not have any intention of disturbing a resting snake, the reality is that many such encounters occur sporadically, and many victims are bitten simply because they surprised a concealed snake. Therefore, take time to research your hiking location and determine if rattlesnakes are native to the area. Snakes commonly utilize their namesake rattles as a warning to potential threats, so keep your ears open for this sound, and if you hear it, consider turning back.


Act quickly, but appropriately


If you have already been bitten by a snake, time is vital. It may be hard to suppress your adrenaline, but the best course of action is to remain as calm and rational as possible, and this means forgoing methods rooted in myths and misconceptions. Here are a few common pitfalls to avoid:


  • Do not attempt to “suck out” the venom with your mouth; all this will do is transfer the poison to another part of your body.


  • Do not make an incision to “let the poison” out of the bitten area. This method is the product of tall tales and it will not accomplish anything.


  • Do not ingest anything or take any medications until you have met with a doctor. Doing so could complicate your situation further.


Symptoms will likely present themselves quickly, and may include blurred vision, dizziness, vomiting, and extreme pain in the bite area. The best course of action is to find or contact help as soon as possible and get yourself to a hospital before symptoms can worsen. If you are waiting for help to arrive, be sure to remove any rings or tight fitting clothing near the bite area, as they may cause the wound to swell. If you can, create a splint to slow the venom’s flow. Finally, if you are with someone else, have that person closely monitor your vital signs as you wait.