It’s really not their nature to be so sneaky, because snakes are usually as afraid of us as we are of them.  They like to hide in tall grassy areas and cool places.  If they are residing in outdoor workers’ terrain, it’s wise to know what they look like in order to identify the ones that are venomous.  Rattlesnakes, copperheads, cottonmouth/water mocassins, and coral snakes are common venomous reptiles.  

While playing on the high school golf team, our daughter was bitten twice by a rattlesnake, approximately 4 ½ feet long.  She was in the hospital for a week, with the possibility of surgery to relieve the swelling around the muscles.  Thankfully, surgery was not required, but physical therapy was, in order to straighten out her foot.   If you know anyone who has had this experience, it is certainly not a pleasant one. 

The American Association of Poison Control Centers receives reports of about 5,000 snakebites per year.  Some persons can have an allergic reaction to a bite from a non-venomous snake.  Outdoor workers should be extremely cautious while working in grassy areas, or in desert terrains, where rattlesnakes dwell.  Copperheads live in certain areas in our location, and they may hide in a bucket, under a step, or just about anywhere they choose, their color blending in with rocks. 

The symptoms of venomous bites vary by each individual, and may not show up at first.  Because the types of venom from various snakes are different, listed below are signs to watch for:

  • Severe localized pain;
  • Fainting;
  • Dizziness;
  • Blurred vision;
  • Fang marks in the skin and extreme swelling at the site of the bite;
  • Discoloration, redness and bruising;
  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • Breathing difficulties 

There should be a quick response for medical treatment; treat all snakebites as venomous, just to be on the safe side.  Get to an emergency room as soon as possible.  Antivenin, also called antivenom, is an antitoxin specific to the venom of a particular animal or insect.  Care should be given to test for an allergy to the antivenom before administering the drug. 

While waiting for medical assistance, wash the bite with soap and water.  Keep the bitten area lower than the heart.  Do not use a tourniquet.  Remove all watches, rings, and constrictive clothing, because the area is going to swell.  Try to keep the patient calm. 

When working outdoors, and especially in tall grass, wear thick leather boots and carry some sort of stick.  Whether you are an outdoor worker, or hiker, it is wise to keep a first aid kit with supplies handy.  Having communication with your supervisor or someone could possibly save your life, so keep your cell phone charged.  If you are working alone, or hunting or hiking, it is imperative that you have some sort of communication device with you at all times.