Australia has some 140 species of land snake, and around 32 species of sea snakes have been recorded in Australian waters.
About 100 Australian snakes are venomous, although only 12 are likely to inflict a wound that could kill you. These include Taipans, Brown snakes, Tiger snakes, Death Adders, Black snakes, Copperhead snakes, Rough Scaled snakes as well as some sea snakes.
It’s snake season on the Central Coast, so it definitely pays to know what to do if you or someone you are with is bitten by a snake.
It is important to remember that snakes usually bite defensively, rather than actively attacking humans.
If you’re ever bitten by a snake, keeping these 5 things in mind might save your life.
1. Call an ambulance immediately
You should treat any snake bite as an emergency, regardless of whether you think the snake was venomous or not. Many snakes look similar, and if you wait to see if you feel symptoms of venom poisoning, it might be too late by the time you get help. Call Triple Zero (000) and ask for an ambulance.
2. Don’t panic and don’t move
Easier said than done, but by staying calm and still after a snake bite can help slow down the spread of venom in your body. If you have been bitten by a poisonous snake, not moving might save your life. If you can stay still and calm, you can prevent the venom in your lymph traveling further into your body. Take long, deep breaths to help calm yourself down. Remember that the odds are in your favour: it’s rare for people to die after being bitten by a snake, especially if they follow first aid steps.
3. Leave the snake alone
Don’t try to identify, catch, injure or kill the snake – you are likely to come off second best. At the hospital, staff have access to a range of tests that can help them determine the likely snake which you have been bitten by, enabling them to give you the most appropriate treatment.
4. Apply a pressure immobilisation bandage and splint
Most snake bites occur on a limb, so legs, feet, arms and hands are most commonly affected. If you are bitten on a limb, applying a pressure immobilisation bandage can stop the venom moving through your lymphatic system. Wrap bandage around bite sight 3-5 times then down to end of limb and all the way to the top of the limb. Apply the bandage using the same tightness as you would use to strap a strained ankle. Immobilise the limb using a splint for the leg or a sling for the arm. If you don’t have a bandage handy, any stretchy material will do (torn up t-shirts, stockings or other fabric can be used as a bandage).
5. Don’t wash, suck, cut or tourniquet the bite
There are a lot of old methods for treating snake bites that are now known to cause more harm than good. Washing the snake bite site can wash off venom that the hospital staff may be able to use to identify the type of snake that bit you. Do not suck or cut the bite area. Do not apply a tourniquet to the limb – this can be dangerous.
4 practices delivering ‘high quality health care’ across the Central Coast