Rattlesnakes usually avoid humans, but about 8,000 people are bitten by venomous snakes in the United States each year, with 10 to 15 deaths, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Most bites occur between the months of April and October when snakes and humans are most active outdoors. About 25 percent of the bites are “dry,” meaning no venom was injected, but the bites still require medical treatment. Depending on weather and threatening conditions such wildfires; rattlesnakes may roam at any time of the day or night. If walking at night, be sure to use a flashlight.
To avoid rattlesnake bites some safety precautions will help:
- Wear appropriate over-the-ankle hiking boots, thick socks, and loose-fitting long pants. Never go barefoot or wear sandals when walking through wild areas.
- When hiking, stick to well-used trails if possible.
- Avoid tall grass, weeds, and heavy underbrush where snakes may hide during the day.
- If a fallen tree or large rock is in your path, step up on to it instead of over it, as there might be a snake on the other side.
- Do not turn over rocks or logs. If you must move a rock or log, use gloves and roll it toward you, giving anything beneath it the opportunity to escape in the opposite direction.
- Never grab “sticks” or “branches” while swimming in lakes and rivers. Rattlesnakes can swim.
- If you hear the warning rattle, move away from the area and do not make sudden or threatening movements in the direction of the snake.
- Remember rattlesnakes do not always rattle before they strike!
- Do not handle a freshly killed snake - it can still inject venom.
If bitten by a rattlesnake DO:
· Stay calm
· Call Dispatch via radio or 911
· Wash the bite area gently with soap and water if available
· Remove watches, rings, etc., which may constrict swelling
· Immobilize the affected area
· Keep the bite below the heart if possible
· Transport safely to the nearest medical facility immediately.
If bitten by a rattlesnake DO NOT:
· Do not make incisions over the bite wound.
· Do not restrict blood flow by applying a tourniquet.
· Do not ice the wound.
· Do not suck the poison out with your mouth.