First Aid for Snake Bites: Simple and Effective Techniques for Being Prepared

There are plenty of venomous snakes in the world and Australia has more than our fair share. Trainer Nick gives us some great tips and techniques for dealing with our slithering friends. (reading time 4 min - 1.5 if you scan!)
Nick Nedelkovski
First Aid Instructor
March 24, 2023
First Aid for Snake Bites

Table of Contents

Introduction

Knowing first aid for snake bites in Australia is important. It doesn’t matter if you live in the bush, the cities, or the suburbs; snakes may be present, so understanding first aid for snake bites and preparing for them is critical.

Snake bites can be lethal. Seek Immediate medical assistance.

So, let’s get familiar with what to do if we, or someone we love, get bitten by a snake!

Prevention

Of course, you won’t need to use first aid for snake bites if you avoid all snakes!

According to the Medical Journal of Australia, the “Snakebite Project,” research undertaken from 2005 to 2015, there are roughly 3000 snake bites annually in Australia on average.

One of the most difficult issues we face in Australia is that we share an environment with our wriggly buddies. While you may believe that most snake bites occur out bush, a study in 2016 indicated “the majority of snakebite deaths [in Australia] occurred close to the person’s dwelling and were within a major city or inner regional area”.

As you can see, dodging snakes might be difficult. You may avoid becoming a statistic if you educate yourself on snake behaviour and know what to do if bitten.

Be prepared. Be safe. Watch your step!

Here are some tips to reduce your risk of a snake bite

  • Be aware that we share a habitat with snakes. They could be in and around your suburban, city, or rural property.
  • Wear protective clothing, such as boots and long pants, when hiking or working in areas where snakes are present (even in your garden).
  • Avoid reaching into holes, under rocks, or into bushes without first checking for snakes.
  • Don’t be a snake charmer, people! Stepping on or touching snakes, dead or alive, is never a good idea.
  • If you go camping, keep your campsite and sleeping area free of rubbish, which may attract snakes.
  • Store food securely. The smell of food may attract snakes.

So, you ignore all these tips, and you get bitten by a snake. How does the venom get from the bite site to the vital organs where all the damage is done?

Read on…

The Lymphatic System and snake bites

Generally, Australian snake venom travels via the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a network of tubes travelling around the body that drains lymph fluid which has leaked from the blood vessels into the tissues and empties it back into the bloodstream via the lymph nodes.

The venom travels via these tubes to a lymph node where it enters the bloodstream and makes its way to the vital organs.

Now we’ve got problems!

Symptoms of snake bite

Common symptoms of a snake bite include:

  • Pain or swelling at the bite site.
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Sweating or fainting
  • Blurred vision or difficulty speaking.
  • In severe cases, a person may experience muscle paralysis, breathing difficulties or even death.

Pressure Immobilisation Technique (PIT) – First Aid for snake bites

Follow these steps:

  1. Get the victim to sit or lie down on the ground and call 000. Lay the victim on the ground. Laying them down helps to immobilise their lymphatic system as well.
  2. Wrap the affected limb with a large pressure bandage over the bite location as quickly as feasible. Use elasticised bandages if available. The bandage should be firm yet not restrict blood circulation. A finger should not easily slide between the bandage and the skin.
  3. To further restrict the venom’s passage, beginning at the toes or fingertips, wrap a second bandage over the whole length of the limb, By applying pressure to the leg or arm, and reducing lymphatic flow, we can delay the spread of venom. The goal is to keep the bandage tight enough to be effective without cutting off circulation. It is critical to monitor the limb and ensure it’s still warm and pink rather than cold and blue.
  4. Use a splint or a sling to keep the limb as motionless as possible. Get to a hospital as soon as possible for proper treatment.
  5. Commence CPR

If you do not have any bandages or a first aid kit, use what you have.

Remember the PIT – it might save your life!

When to seek medical attention

If you suspect a snake has bitten you, or someone you know, seek medical attention immediately and call 000. Even if the bite does not appear severe, it is still important to receive prompt medical treatment. If left untreated, a snake bite can quickly worsen and result in serious health complications or death.

Summary

Snakes can be dangerous, and it is important to avoid a bite. But, if a snake does bite you, apply the Pressure Immobilisation Technique and seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Treatment for a snake bite may include, administering antivenom, pain relief, and monitoring for symptoms and signs of an allergic reaction or other complications.

The good news is, with prompt treatment, most people who are bitten by a snake make a full recovery.

Take care and be safe. Check out some of our other Blog Posts here

Share on
Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
You might also like
the image contains a person bitten by a snake in the wilderness followed by Life Saving First Aid logo and the title of the blog "First Aid Checklist: The ultimate guide"

First Aid Kit Checklist: the ultimate guide

The importance of a First Aid Kit is often underrated. Having a fully stocked first aid kit handy and ready to go is a legal requirement for workplaces and a must for individuals.
So, read on to discover what your first aid kit should contain. (Reading time around 6 minutes)

Read More »
Different strokes for different folks

Stroke

Did you know there are different types of stroke? Do you know how to recognise the symptoms and how to help? Read on ( Reading time around 6 minutes)

Read More »

Nick Nedelkovski

Trainer Nick has been with Life Saving First Aid for almost 3 years. He has been involved in VET training for many years and is a very experienced trainer. He maintains his first-aid skills by volunteering as a first-aid officer for one of Melbourne’s high-profile soccer teams—a task he has done for several years.
Since he started with Life Saving First Aid, over 18000 students have enjoyed one of Nick’s training sessions!

Explore similar articles.

Remote area first aid part 1

Remote area first aid ( part 1)

Australian remote area survival: Do you know how to stay alive when it’s over 40°C in the shade and the next water could be more than 100 km away?

The secret is in the planning and preparation. Get that right and your chances of a safe journey increase. (reading time 7min)

Read More »
image contains the title of the blog "CPR on Women - Closing the Gap" Next to the title, illustrates a woman doing CPR to another woman with the logo of LIfe Saving First Aid

CPR Discrepancy: Myths vs. Reality.

All casualties that need CPR are treated the same right? Nope… Read on to learn the astonishing truth. Did you know there is a negative bias regarding the provision of CPR on women compared to men, by bystanders. We’re closing the Gap one rescue at a time – The CPR discrepancy. Read on. (Reading Time about 5 mins)

Read More »
the image contains a person bitten by a snake in the wilderness followed by Life Saving First Aid logo and the title of the blog "First Aid Checklist: The ultimate guide"

First Aid Kit Checklist: the ultimate guide

The importance of a First Aid Kit is often underrated. Having a fully stocked first aid kit handy and ready to go is a legal requirement for workplaces and a must for individuals.
So, read on to discover what your first aid kit should contain. (Reading time around 6 minutes)

Read More »
Image depicts a stylised illustration of a horse preparing to be injected with snake venom, infront of it, there is a hand holding the syringe with the antivenom. Title of the blog "How Antivenom is made" followed by Life Saving First Aid logo

How is antivenom made?

Australia. Home to most of the world’s most venomous snakes. Thanks to the early research, Australia is in a fortunate position. We have good antivenom. Combined with good ambulance service and a good hospital system they all work together to reduce the impact of venomous bites on our community. Also, Australia is the only country in the world that has snake venom detection kits… Just As well! ( Reading Time 5mins Approx)

Read More »
title of the image Introduction to the musculoskeletal system by life saving first aid dot com dot au. illustration on the right depicting a skeleton with a top hat gleefully dancing followed by Life Saving First Aid logo

First Aid for Musculoskeletal Injuries.

Our musculoskeletal system makes us who we are as a species. Upright, on two legs, roaming the savanna. Trying to imagine what we would look like if we had no skeleton would leave you flat! Anyway, read on….

Read More »
Image of someone who got their feet poked with a syringe in a park. The title of the blog is :Needlestick Injurt First Aid" followed by Life Saving First Aid logo

Needle stick injury

Ouch! What a prick…For a First Aider, exposure to hypodermic syringes is a risk. Understanding the procedure to deal with a needle stick injury is important.

Read More »
Image of someone being injured in a multiple casualty event being tended by a first aider giving red tag triage with the title "Triage for multiple casualties" followed by Life Saving First Aid logo

Triage for multiple casualties

With multiple casualties, the process you should follow is called Triage. By allocating a coloured tag to a casualty you can assign their medical priority. Red, green, yellow or black? Which tag goes where? Find out here.

Read More »
Image of a person watering their flowers in the garden while bees, wasps and ants roam around the garden The title next to it says "Bee’s, Wasps, & Ant bites and stings" followed by Life Saving First Aid logo

Guide to First Aid for Bites and Stings.

Ticks, bees, wasps and ants are just some of the crawling marauders we may encounter here in Australia. Stings and bites can range from minor pain to life-threatening. Here’s a brief what and how for insect bites and stings First Aid. ( Reading time around 5 minutes)

Read More »
Bleeding, blood loss and shock followed by Life Saving First Aid logo

Emergency Response to Bleeding, Blood Loss, and Shock.

Blood. It transports life-sustaining nutrients to all parts of our bodies. It carries away waste products for filter or disposal. If we lose too much through injury we can die. Check out how you can help minimise blood loss due to injury. ( Reading time around 8 minutes )

Read More »