Snake bites can be scary. They often occur far from the hospital, in the wilderness or in remote settings. You may encounter snakes on a hike, running on trails, or while camping in the woods.
Regan Marsh, MD, MPH, a Mass General Brigham emergency medicine doctor, provides helpful tips if you or a companion experience a snake bite.
Not all snakes are venomous. But if someone is bitten by a snake, you’ll want to act fast, especially if it’s a child or an older person. Try to keep calm and follow these steps if you’re faced with this emergency.
If you can safely and without delay get to the ER, take a photo of the snake. Time is critical. If it’s needed, antivenom treatment should be given by the doctors as soon as possible.
Tell the dispatcher if you or a companion experience:
While you wait for emergency services, here’s what you can do:
You may have heard some tips for snake bite care that can be harmful.
Doctors use antivenom (sometimes called antivenin) to treat bites. They’re often developed from specific snake bite venoms, so knowing the species of snake that bit you can be extremely valuable information.
Venomous snakes are found in many locations and habitats, from mountains to desert to water environments. Common venomous snakes in the United States include:
As with any emergency situation, the key to a good outcome is to get medical attention as quickly as you can. Though most snake bites are usually minor first aid concerns, it’s good to know what to do if bitten. Play it safe and call 9-1-1 or if possible, head to an emergency room or doctor nearby.