TO DO IF YOU ARE BITTEN
Snakebites are a medical emergency and should be taken seriously. Within
15 minutes, most bites are recognizable by the development of
discolouration, swelling, and pain at the site of the bite. Hospitals
and doctors now receive specialized training in snakebite treatment and
have quick access to a network of snakebite experts. With appropriate
hospital treatment, no one has died from rattlesnake bites in Ontario.
A SNAKEBITE OCCURS THE MOST IMPORTANT ACTIONS ARE:
- Do not panic. Remain calm. Reassure
the bitten person. Remember that the person may have been bitten, but
NOT envenomated. The calmer the person is, the better he/she can
assist the hospital in ensuring a full recovery.
- A calm person can assist doctors by
answering questions about the incident and the snake in question –
important information doctors will use to assess your condition and
- Staying calm is essential! The spread
of venom, development of shock, and other medical reactions will be
slower if the person stays calm. Call emergency services to request
transportation to the hospital. Remember, there is time. Although a
medical emergency, a doctor may opt for one or two hours of
observation before deciding on treatment. Do not endanger yourself,
the person who was bitten, or others by the reckless operation of a
vehicle or boat in order to get to a medical facility or transfer
point. To secure transportation to a hospital, one should call an
ambulance or an emergency service.
- If possible, carry the patient or
assist them in reducing activity. Ensure they are laying down while
waiting for transportation. Remaining calm and inactive will slow the
circulation of venom throughout the body.
- Wash and cleanse the wound.
Remove any jewellery from the bitten limb
in case of swelling.
- Splint the limb to reduce movement.
- DO NOT apply a tourniquet.
- DO NOT apply ice; DO NOT cut the bite
area and apply suction.