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Warm Weather Means Higher Risk of Snake Bites
05/21/2010

KAUFMAN, Texas — The risk of snake bites increases every spring as more and more people head outside to enjoy the warm weather. Whether doing yard work, hiking or enjoying the outdoors with a swim in the lake, experts at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Kaufman say it’s important to stay alert and avoid getting bitten.

“While most snake bites aren’t life-threatening, some can be serious and can even be fatal,” said Mark Sanders, R.N., M.S.N., director of critical care at Texas Health Kaufman. “That’s why it’s important for people to know how to avoid snakes and know what to do if they’re bitten.”

There are several varieties of venomous snakes in Texas, but the most common in the Kaufman area are copper heads and rattlesnakes, with water moccasins found in and around water, including lakes and ponds.

“The best tip is to stay away from snakes altogether,” Sanders said. “If you are outdoors working, wear long pants and boots and pay special attention to areas with heavy brush or piles of wood. Those are the kinds of places where snakes like to hide.”

Around water, water moccasins can rest under boat docks and along the shore.

If you are bitten, Sanders says the No. 1 step is to assume the snake is venomous and call 911 or get to the nearest emergency room. Do not elevate the area bitten. Keep the bite below the level of the heart. Wash the area with warm water and soap, and remove constricting clothing and jewelry from the extremity. The area may swell and constricting items will cause tissue damage.

Other tips:

  • Avoid tall brush and deep, dark crevices.
  • Make plenty of noise and vibration while walking.
  • No cutting or sucking. Those old movies and snake bite kits from the drug store don't work. Cutting into the wound will just create infections.

If you are bitten and the snake is dead, it’s appropriate to bring it to the hospital, Sanders said.

“That helps us identify if it’s a venomous snake or not,” he said. “But if you’re not sure if the snake is dead, don’t take the risk. Get a cell phone picture if you can. Otherwise, it’s most important to get here to the ER.”

About Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Kaufman
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Kaufman is a 91-bed acute-care, full-service medical center serving Kaufman and Henderson counties and the southern part of Dallas County since 1979. The hospital's services include women’s services, wound care, diagnostic imaging, cardiac rehabilitation and pain management services. Texas Health Kaufman, an affiliate of the faith-based, nonprofit Texas Health Resources system, was recently recognized with the Pathway to Excellence hospital designation for distinction in nursing by the American Nurses Credentialing Center and is a Level IV Trauma Center. For more information, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit TexasHealth.org/Kaufman.

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