• Caitlin Watson

Children's Snake Etiquette

Do your children have snake etiquette? The National Centre for Farmer Health states snake bites most commonly happen to agricultural workers and children, so it’s important that your children know how to safely behave around snakes and how to treat snake bites.

While tornique's should not be used as first aid for snake bites, you can use belts as pretend snakes in snake drills.

Similar to having fire drills, have snake drills with children of all ages to teach them how to behave if they see a snake. For example, how to react if they come across one outside, what to do if one is inside your house, as well as how to treat a snake bite.

As a child I was told to stand still (since in general snakes “hear” vibration and not sounds), yell “snake” and keep an eye on it until someone responded. I still follow this advice today (it tends to come out as a ladylike high pitched shout). The most common suggestion on Google searches is similar to this, treat with caution, stay still/don’t corner the snake.

There is a lot of “helpful advice” on Google searches as well, I would suggest your best advice would be to speak to a local snake catcher. These officers will know how to behave around snakes found locally, and may even run info sessions for children.

While not all snakes are poisonous or venomous, it is best to err on the side of caution! Snake bites can cause a wide variety of symptoms, including: swelling, redness and/or pain around the bite site, difficulty breathing, nausea/vomiting, burred vision, sweating, salivating, numbness.

If your child (or anyone else) is bitten by a snake: keep the person calm and still, apply a pressure bandage placing a mark on the bandage over the bite, splint the affected limb, urgently take them to the nearest hospital. DO NOT WASH THE BITE AREA, as any venom on the skin can be used to identify the correct anti-venom to be given.

Research shows only limited amounts of venom reaching circulation if BOTH pressure on the bite site is maintained and the limb is immobilised, depending on the amounts of venom injected by the snake as well!

If you are unsure of how apply a pressure bandage, view a reputable first aid website for instructions. If your children are old enough, you may even like to enroll them in a first aid course, to ensure their knowledge is current and not influenced by “cowboy” style movies showing people cutting/sucking venom out (check out this website for a description of 1800's method of snake bite treatment! https://theconversation.com/hissstory-how-the-science-of-snake-bite-treatments-has-changed-71408).

Tourniquet's, such as belts, are no longer recommended for snake bite treatment. Studies show there is no significant gain in applying a tourniquet, and may even make the effects worse. You may like to view the following journal article, which reviews treatment of snake bites in a first aid setting. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5066967/

While belts are not helpful for snake bite treatment, you can purchase one from my store www.sensiblekidssupplies.com/belts to use for drill practice (when its not being worn!). Pretend it is a snake and place it in various locations, in the house, on the ground outside, in trees, or on the outside of the house.

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