Summer is finally here which means the snakes are out and about. While most snakes are harmless and play crucial roles in ecosystems, encounters with venomous species can be dangerous if not handled correctly. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, gardener, or simply enjoy spending time in nature, understanding snake safety is essential.

Know Your Snakes: First and foremost, familiarize yourself with the snakes native to your area. In Georgia, there are several venomous species, including rattlesnakes, copperheads, cottonmouths (also known as water moccasins), and coral snakes. Learning to identify these snakes and their habitats can help you avoid potential encounters.

Stay Alert: When spending time outdoors, particularly in areas where snakes are known to inhabit, remain vigilant. Watch where you step, especially in tall grass, rocky areas, and near bodies of water where snakes may seek shelter or hunt for prey. Keep in mind that snakes are generally more active during warmer months, so exercise extra caution during spring and summer.

Give Snakes Space: If you come across a snake, maintain a safe distance and do not attempt to handle or disturb it. Remember, snakes typically only bite when they feel threatened or cornered. Respect their space and allow them to move away on their own accord.

Wear Appropriate Clothing: When hiking or working outdoors, consider wearing long pants, sturdy boots, and gloves to provide an extra layer of protection against snake bites. Avoid wearing sandals or going barefoot in areas where snakes may be present.

What to Do If You’ve Been Bitten: Despite taking precautions, snake bites can still occur. If you or someone you’re with is bitten by a snake, it’s crucial to remain calm and take immediate action:

  1. Move to Safety: If possible, move away from the snake to prevent further bites.
  2. Call for Help: Contact emergency services or seek medical attention as soon as possible. Even if you feel the snake is not venomous, it is still important to go to the emergency room for evaluation.
  3. Keep Still: Immobilize the affected limb and keep it at or slightly below heart level to slow the spread of venom. Avoid applying ice, tourniquets, or attempting to suck out the venom, as these methods can do more harm than good.
  4. Remove Tight Clothing and Jewelry: If the bite is on a limb, remove any tight clothing or jewelry near the bite site, as swelling may occur.
  5. Monitor Vital Signs: While waiting for medical help to arrive, monitor the victim’s vital signs, including pulse and breathing. Be prepared to administer CPR if necessary.

Prevention Is Key: While snake bites can be frightening, following these safety tips and being prepared can help minimize the risk. Remember, most snakes are not aggressive and will only bite as a last resort. By respecting their space and understanding how to respond in the event of a bite, you can enjoy the great outdoors with confidence and peace of mind.