In houses and gardens:
v Learn to identify the local species of snakes and which ones are venomous. You need worry only about avoiding the venomous ones.
v Piles of debris (stacks of bricks, firewood, etc.) and rubble are good hiding places for snakes.
v Keep the surrounding area clear of low bushes, and hedges which are clear at the root base. The idea is to avoid providing cover for the snakes while approaching the house and for you to have a clear range of vision.
v Keep the house and surrounding area free of all rodents (prey) and rodent burrows (shelter).
v Use a torch/flashlight when walking outdoors at night.
v Sleep off the ground on a cot or bed or use a mosquito net, preferably both.
v If you see a snake, it is best to let it find its way out of the house by itself. If it is well settled in, use a hockey stick like curved stick to pick up the snake and drop into a tall bucket with lid. The snake can now be moved outdoors.
v Do not try to kill the snake as you can get bitten in the process.
v Encourage ratsnakes to live in the garden as they will eat all other snakes.
v Don’t reach into spots you cannot check for snakes first.
v A dog trained to fear snakes (get their nose bitten by a harmless watersnake when they are puppies) will warn you of the presence of one.
v Avoid reaching your hands into stacks of straw, wood, etc.
v While walking at night always use a torch.
v Always wear footwear (of any kind).
v Watch where you step.
There is only one sure cure for venomous snakebite: antivenom serum. Most snake bites are not dangerous, only 10 to 15% of venomous bites prove serious enough to be potentially fatal. Check if the local hospital stocks anti-venom serum ahead of time. In case of a bite, go to the hospital immediately. First aid measures like pressure bandages, tourniquets, cut and suck are NOT recommended.
FIRST AID (courtesy http://www.lfsru.org/firstaid.htm)
The best and most effective instant action to take in case of snakebite is to follow the four point plan below:
- Reassure the victim
Keep calm. Fear and panic will only raise the pulse rate and blood pressure and move the venom into the system faster. Tell the patient that most snakebites are from non-venomous species. Even most venomous bites are rarely serious but all bites should be watched for symptoms.
- Immobilize the bitten limb without compression.
If the bite is on a hand or arm place it in a sling bandage or use a piece of cloth to support the arm. In the case of a leg bite, keep it still on a cushion of cloth or straw.
- Carry the patient to hospital as fast as safely possible.
Don’t waste time washing the wound, seeking traditional remedies or applying any drugs or chemicals to the patient. Keep the patient as immobile as possible; carry the patient on a stretcher or ride in a vehicle, boat or bicycle. DO NOT WASTE TIME.
- On the way to the hospital note any of the following signs and tell the Doctor.
The Doctor will want to know if any of the following signs or symptoms were seen on the journey to the hospital:
a) Difficulty in breathing
b) Drooping eyelids
c) Appearance of any unusual bruising
d) Swelling. Carry a pen and mark the limit of the swelling every 10 minutes or so
f) Difficulty in speaking
g) Bleeding from the gums
h) Bleeding from the wound that does not seem to stop