How do I treat a poisonous snake bite?

There are different and conflicting methods to treat a poisonous snake bite. Many of these methods are outdated because research has shown them to be ineffective or dangerous. The recommended method also changes from area to area. Find what the most current local protocol is and use it. You may want to discard the outdated instructions that came with your snake bite kit.

Here is a list of facts related to snake bite treatment:

1. The best treatment for a poisonous snake bite is anti-venom which is usually only found in an emergency room. Use the suctioning device in the snake bite kit only if it does not slow your transportation to the hospital, i.e. during the ride or while waiting for your ride. If the trip to the hospital is less than 30 minutes, don't even bother with the suction.

2. There are two main types of suctioning devices. One looks like a squeezable cup and the other looks like a syringe with a cup attached to the end. The syringe type works best. It is very helpful if the cup at the end of the syringe is clear for easier monitoring.

3. Don't suction with the mouth. One, it may be dangerous and two, it is very very ineffective. Researchers found that the venom does not affect mucus membrane which is what the entire inside of your mouth is made of. The fault is, there may be cuts, scrapes, blisters, cavities, chapped lips, or many other imperfections in your mouth that will pass the venom into your blood stream. Also, your mouth can only produce a fraction of the amount of suction that a mechanical suction device can and some people have slowed down transportation by taking time to suction by mouth, which is a big mistake.

4. Check with your local protocol about constrictor bands. Most doctors agree that it is ineffective and dangerous. Some people often try to include it in the treatment in a effort to do more. Also, snake bite kit manufactures feel silly selling only the suction device (which is about the only useful piece in the kit). Definitely do NOT use the constrictor band if you don't know precisely what you are doing.

5. Don't go slicing up the patient with the lance. It does not effectively increase the amount of venom that will be suctioned and usually only adds to the injury.

6. Take a good look at the snake. Catch the snake of it can be done safely. Either of these actions will help the doctor identify which anti-venom to use. Catching a snake is usually done with a long stick, but if you haven't been shown how, don't try it.

Remember, it is best to focus on the quick transportation to the emergency room.