By Stephen Lody Photography (Own work http://www.behance.net/kadoka)
[CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Natural or human-made, disasters have a penchant for bringing out unfriendly reptiles. Even the most prepped of us will find ourselves gathering firewood, foraging for food and water, or seeking shelter in new places when disaster strikes – and that’s just inviting some of the 3000+ snake species on the planet. That’s why it’s so important for the well-prepped survivalist to understand how to avoid and survive a snake attack.
Here’s what you need to do, to ensure you can survive potential snakebites if things go awry.
Understand the different kinds of snakesMost people fear bites from venomous snakes, but few know that non-venomous bites pose the risk for serious infection as well. While there’s no clear-cut way to distinguish between the two kinds, most venomous snakes have triangular heads, elliptical instead of round pupils, or pits between their eyes and nostrils. Prep yourself up for survival by researching the common kinds of snakes found in your region. Some prominent venomous snakes are rattlesnakes, copperheads, cottonmouths, coral snakes and cobras, so familiarize yourself with their features as soon as possible.
Prevention is better than cureWhen you step into unchartered territory, you need to steer clear of snakes – venomous or non-venomous. Snakes tend to hide in tall grass and undergrowth, or under piles of leaves, so avoid areas sporting these as much as possible. Wherever possible, go out in the coolest parts of the day; snakes are at their most active in hot weather and during the night. Keep a pair each of thick boots, long pants and leather gloves in your survival bag, so you remain well-protected from snake and insect bites at all times.
Understand snakebite first-aidIf you or someone you know are bitten by a snake, knowing the right first-aid can slow down the spread of poison and give you time to reach your bug-out bag or shelter for medicine. The fear that comes from a snakebite often does more harm than the bite itself – keep yourself calm if bitten, as stress amps up circulation, which causes the venom to spread faster. To further slowdown the flow of the venom, position the affected area below heart level, remove items such as tight clothing or jewelry from around it, and then use a splint or compressing bandage to restrict its movement. The compressing device you use should be tight enough to slow down circulation, but not so tight that it further damages the affected body part.
Carry antivenin in your bug-out bagThe World Health Organization (WHO) includes snake antivenin in its List of Essential Medicines, as the only specific treatment for envenoming bites. Carry an antivenin that meets WHO requirements in your bug-out bag, to prevent and reverse the effects of a potential envenoming snakebite. There are multiple kinds of antivenins, some of which are specific to geographies and species, so be sure to find the one most appropriate for your surroundings. Ideally, you should be looking for anti-venom that treats snakebites from most of the common snake species found in your region.
With these four guidelines shaping your survival prep and first aid kit, you’ll be well-prepared for snakebite survival, should disaster strike. Just remember that no matter how well-prepped you are, bite prevention is always better than treatment.
Written by James Smith