7 things to do when bitten by a snake

What will you do if someone around you gets bitten by a snake?
  1.  I will  suck the poison out of the snake bite mark and spit it out very fast.
  2. I will enlarge or scratch the bite marks and allow it to bleed so that the poison will be passed out.
  3. If the bite is on the leg or hand, I will tie the affected limb hard enough so that the poison will not circulate round the body and remain around the snake bite.
  4. If the bite is on the head, I will tie the neck but not tie it firmly enough to cause strangulation.
  5.  I will urinate and pour the urine on the snake bite.
  6. I will remove serumen (ear wax) from my ear and rub on the snake bite wound.
  7. I will look for bitter leaf and squeeze the juice on the snake bite mark so that the bitter leaf will absorb the poison.
  8. I will look for bitter leaf and squeeze the juice on the bite mark to weaken the poison.
  9. I will look for African panacea and apply on the snake bite and lick some.
  10.  I will try to catch and kill the snake.
  11.  I will call for a priest, pastor or prophet to pray over the snake bite especially if it is poisonous.

The knowledge of snake bite is very important, especially to us in Cameroon and africa who are surrounded by bushes. Knowing what to do in case of a snake bite could save a life. Not all snakes are poisonous but until you establish whether the snake is poisonous or not, treat all snake bites as emergencies. 

It is important to note that some snake bites will produce a local effect, whether they are poisonous or not.When someone is bitten by a viper or some cobras, it may be very painful and sometimes the area can bleed, blister and may swell just within five minutes of the bite. If the area of the bite begins to swell and change colour, the snake might be venomous. Viper bites are poisonous and the person may become weak and as time passes, they person may become hypotensive, get into a shock, and in some cases respiratory failure may result.

The answers to the above 11 questions are all false. This is because if a poisonous snake bites you, you will need to get to a hospital or poison centre to receive antivenin. A snake bite is not a bacterial of viral infection so no one should sell any product to you claiming it cures snake bites.

What to do in case of a snake bite
  1. If you are far away, call for help either from a hospital or for someone who can help with a fast means of transport to the hospital. Make sure the person is calm, remember most snake bites are not poisonous. Try to minimize movements too.
  2. Remove all tight clothing and things such as bracelets watches and rings around the area that has been bitten. This is to prevent constriction of vessels if the area swells.
  3. Apply a pressure to the bitten limb and if the bite is to the head, neck or trunk, apply pressure to these areas. You may also splint the bitten limb to restrict movement. If you can mark the area of the bite then do so.  
  4. If possible, let the person lie down with the bitten limb at the level of the body. Raising the bitten limb can cause the venom spread quickly around the body and lowering the affected limb can increase swelling.
  5. Try to remember the shape, length and color of the snake. This will help the medical personnel to determine whether you were beaten by a poisonous or non-poisonous snake.
  6. Arrange for the person to be transported to the hospital where the anti-venom for the snakes available in that area will be administered to him. This is the most important thing to do when a person is bitten by a poisonous snake.
  7. Do not leave the person alone. Closely monitor the person and take note of his temperature, respiratory rate, pulse and blood pressure if possible. If you observe signs of shock (such as paleness, cold clammy skin, sweating, rapid shallow breathing and or weakness) lay the person flat, raise the feet of the person and cover him with a blanket if possible and get medical help as soon as possible.

What not to do in case of a snake bite
When someone is bitten by a snake in addition to the 11 questions asked above, DO NOT:
  • Try to suck the venom out of the bite.
  • Cut the bite area to let the venom come out through bleeding.
  • Apply anything to the bite, such as concoctions, ice, heat or chemicals.
  • Apply anything too tight around the bite area to stop the venom from spreading. This can cause swelling and even if the snake was not poisonous, applying a tourniquet can damage the limb and cause it to become gangrenous leading to amputation of the limb.


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