Everything you need to know about snake bite first aid

As Australians, we have a lot of things to be grateful for. However, sharing our home with a large number of venomous snakes is not one of them. Australia not only has 100 different species of venomous snakes, but it is also home to the top three most venomous snakes in the world.

You don’t need to be hiking deep in the bush to fall victim to a snake bite. It could happen in your backyard.

That’s why all Australians should take the time to educate themselves on what to do if you or someone you love is bitten by a snake.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about snake bite first aid, so that you can keep yourself and your family safe in the case of an emergency.

What are the most common snake bite symptoms?

Though it may come as a surprise, many snakebite victims don’t even feel a thing at the time of the attack. That’s why it’s important to know how to determine if you’re really dealing with a snake bite wound.

According to the Royal Flying Doctor Service, common snake bite symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Puncture marks (or small, very visible scratches)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bruising or swelling
  • Headache, confusion or dizziness
  • Blurred vision, muscle weakness or collapse
  • Nausea, vomiting or abdominal pain
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Tingling, stinging or burning skin
  • Bleeding or paralysis

How soon should you move a snake bite victim?

While moving the bitten individual away from the area of attack is crucial, to avoid the snake returning and inflicting more harm, make sure that you do not allow the victim to walk or move their limbs. Instead, use a splint or sling from your first aid kit to minimise all limb movement. Afterwards, carefully lift the victim onto a stretcher to carry them to safety.

How should you bandage and position the wound?

According to the Australian Resuscitation Council guidelines, the Pressure Immobilisation Technique (PIT) delays the flow of lymph by which the venom gains access to the circulation. This technique is recommended for the application of bandages to all Australian venomous snake bites.

It is also said that there may be an inactivation of certain venoms and venom components when the injected venom remains trapped in the tissues by the pressure bandage. The less the venom travels, the less damage may be done.

Once the wound has been bandaged, preferably with a professional grade product such as our AeroForm Premium Long Snake Bite Bandage with Indicators, make sure that you do not raise the wound above the heart. This can cause the venom to travel further into the body. At this time it is best to keep the victim as motionless as possible until you can receive further professional medical attention.

Does it matter what kind of snake the victim was bitten by?

According to recent studies, the importance of identifying the colour and type of snake involved in the attack is crucial when it comes to determining how to best treat the wound. While hanging around at the place of attack is not advisable—nor is attempting to photograph the reptile—making a note of the snake’s general appearance could make all the difference to how the victim is treated once they receive medical assistance.

How do I make sure I am prepared for a snake bite scenario?

If you’re someone who spends a lot of time in the outdoors, particularly in the bush, it’s wise to have a Regulator Snake Bite First Aid Kit on hand at all times. This is a potentially life saving essential in rural environments where snake bites are more likely to occur.  

Easy-to-carry and lightweight, this compact kit is packed into a durable softpack bag that can be worn on your belt and includes a First Aid Guide specific to snake bite injuries.

Each Regulator Snake Bite First Aid Kit includes:

  • 1 x AEROBAND Triangular Bandage
  • 1 x AEROPAD Low Adherent Dressing
  • 2 x AEROFORM Snake Bite Indicator Bandages
  • 1 x AEROGUIDE First Aid Leaflet

To make sure you’re always prepared for a snake bite attack, speak to your local pharmacist about Aero’s Snake Bite First Aid Kit.