Beware of snake bites, warns Washington Poison Center

May 31, 2017 | By | Reply More

Western Rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis)

From the Washington Poison Center

Washington summer is quickly approaching and hiking season is upon us, bringing ample opportunities to interact with Washington’s native wildlife–including snakes.

While the vast majority of snakes found in Washington are harmless, the Western rattlesnake is capable of delivering a venomous bite. These species are typically limited to regions east of the Cascade Mountains, but may cross over to other regions.

Bites from this venomous snake can be life threatening. Someone who has been bitten by a rattlesnake should always call the Washington Poison Center and seek immediate medical evaluation in the emergency room as soon as possible.

If you or someone you know has been bitten and are experiencing life threatening symptoms (difficulty breathing, face swelling, loss of consciousness), call 911 immediately. 

Before you set off into the woods, review the following safety tips to avoid snake bites:
  • Do NOT attempt to capture a snake
  • Use open trails and carry a walking stick when hiking in brushy areas
  • Do not step or reach into areas you cannot see
  • Wear over-the-ankle boots and long, loose hiking pants
  • If you encounter a rattlesnake or hear its distinctive rattle, move away slowly
For more information on how to avoid a snake bite and what to do if you’ve been bitten, read the full  Seasonal Health Alert – Snake Bites
If you or a family member has been bitten, remain calm and call the Washington Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 as soon as possible.
  • Do NOT attempt to capture the snake. Taking a photograph may be helpful in identifying the snake, but this should not be done if it puts someone at risk of another bite.
  • Do NOT attempt to extract or remove the venom from the bite.
  • Do NOT apply tourniquets or ice packs to the bite site or affected limb
  • If possible, restrict movement of the affected limb.
  • Remove any rings, jewelry, or other items that may cause constriction if swelling occurs.
For more information visit www.wapc.org/alerts or call the Washington Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Category: Emergency Medicine, Uncategorized, Wilderness Medicine

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