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Snake Bite First Aid and Treatment: How to prevent, recognize and treat snake bites

While most North American snakes are not poisonous, nearly 8,000 people are bitten by venomous snakes each year. Despite this, there are usually less than eight deaths per year. This statistic should not, however, lead backpackers and hikers to believe snakes aren’t something to worry about. Snakes do not want to waste their poison on humans, but rather rodents and other small animals to feed on. But if threatened, a snake may attack and can leave a life-threatening wound behind. A bite from a so-called harmless snake can cause infection or allergic reaction, but if venomous, a snake’s bite can be deadly.

Preventing Snake Bites

While in the outdoors, do not pester, bother, or provoke snakes or other animals as you are in their territory. While it may seem like obvious advice, do not play with or attempt to pick up a snake unless you are a trained professional. If a snake is to bite a human, it is merely acting in defensive and will likely only leave enough venom behind to cause illness.

Avoid hiking in areas where snakes are known to be. Stay out of tall grass and stay on the hiking trail as much as possible. If you must invade snake territory, wear long pants, ankle-high boots, or even snake-proof gaiters. Be careful when stepping in areas where snakes could be hiding such as under or around rocks and logs. If you are entering an area where you can not see your feet, kick ahead of you to give snakes enough warning and time to slither away. Simply put, always keep your hands and feet out of areas where you are unable to see them.

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