Information and treatment of Snake
bite - (Word Doc)
Snakes are especially more prominent in the summer months and can cause serious or fatal consequences to employees or visitors. It is therefore important to have all the necessary knowledge on snakes and know how to take preventative steps.
Although snakes are found in undisturbed areas, it is not unusual for a snake to be found in inhabited areas, due to a higher availability of food.
During winter months, snakes may also choose a spot in an inhabited area to hibernate.
90% of snakebites occur on the lower leg, below the knee, of which 67% are normally on the ankle.
The recommended PPE’s are therefore:
o Long trousers, e.g. overall or a pair of jeans
o Safety boots or comfortable hiking boots, which can protect the ankles.
o When moving about during the night, the same protective clothing should be worn, and it is important for a person to have a good torch, to be able to see where he/she is walking.
General safety rules:
Look where you walk, especially when walking in the veldt. When stepping over a dead tree stump or a stone, rather first step on the stump or stone and first look if a snake is not lying on the other side of the stump or stone.
Look around while chopping down trees. Some snake’s habitat is in trees. (A snakebite caused by a snake falling on a person out of a tree, occurs very seldom).
The wearing of PPE is compulsory as snakebite mostly occur on the legs, and especially the ankles, as already mentioned.
Stay calm when you see a snake – don not panic or move frantically causing it to feel threatened and spit or bite you. Depending on the situation you are in, and the type of snake, it is best to move away cautiously, or in the case of a fast moving snake, like a black mamba or spitting cobra, to remain still. (A snake can only see movement, and although it can detect a person’s heartbeat, up to a distance of 8 metres, it can not see you. Therefore, it will not strike if it is not threatened and if there is not any rapid movement. Most snakes will move along, as they are quite shy.
Never try to handle a snake. They are excellent in mimicry and especially the slower moving snakes, like the adder family, e.g. puff adder, will remain still, until touched, handled or stepped on.
First Aid Treatment:
Take care to first ensure your own safety before approaching the victim. (Is the snake still around?).
Expose the bite and wash away excess venom on the skin with clean water.
Confirm fang penetration and note time of bite.
Reassure and keep the victim calm, still and comfortable.
Cover the wound with a sterile dry gauze swab and apply a broad (150mm) crepe bandage, to act as a pressure bandage. Apply this bandage firmly, starting from a point below the bite site, and working upwards. If the victim develops pins and needles in the affected limb, release the pressure of the bandage slightly.
This is to slow down the process of the venom being spread into the blood system.
DO NOT ELEVATE THE LIMB! Immobilize the affected limb with a splint or sling, in the position of function.
Ensure that the airway is open and maintained and ventilate the victim if necessary.
Keep nil per mouth.
Get the victim to a medical facility AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
Never do the following:
Never apply a restrictive bandage to the head, neck or trunk of the victim.
Never incise or squeeze the wound.
Never attempt to suck the venom out.
Never apply condys crystals, etc. to the wound.
Never give the patient alcohol or anything else to drink.
Never apply an electric shock to the wound.
Never inject anti-venom into the wound.
Venom in the eye:
This is not life threatening, but should be treated correctly, to ensure that the eye is not damaged permanently.
DO NOT RUB THE EYE.
Immediately start irrigating the eye (s) with copious amounts of water or milk, for
15 – 20 minutes, while arranging transport to a medical facility.
Although it is not life-threatening, it is important that such a victim be treated by a
medical doctor as soon as possible.