It can be unsettling to come across a snake on a campout, especially a venomous one.
Snakebites present a potential danger — about 8,000 people in the U.S. are bitten by pit vipers and coral snakes every year, while another 37,000 are bitten by nonvenomous snakes. Deaths are extremely rare, but it’s still best to take steps to avoid a painful bite. The only states without native venomous snakes are Alaska, Rhode Island, Maine and Hawaii.
HOW TO PREVENT SNAKE BITES:
• Snakes tend to slither away from people, striking when cornered or surprised. If you find one, do not try to catch it.
• On the trail, use a hiking stick to poke stones and brush ahead of you so you don’t accidentally step on a hidden snake.
• When you collect firewood or climb over rocks and logs, watch where you step and place your hands.
• Wear gloves and boots to protect your hands and ankles.
IF YOU ARE BITTEN BY A SNAKE:
• Remain calm.
• Gently wash the snake bite with soap and water. Remove jewelry before the area swells.
• Keep the wound site at the level of your heart. Physical activity should be kept at a minimum.
• Get medical help immediately.
WHAT NOT TO DO:
• Do not cut the skin around the snake bite.
• Do not try to suck out the venom.
• Do not apply ice, a compression bandage or tourniquet.