rattlesnake on trail

What to Do if a Rattlesnake Bites You: Immediate Steps for Safety

When enjoying the great outdoors, encountering a rattlesnake is rare but possible, with around one thousand bites occurring annually in the U.S.

Hikers can take certain precautions to minimize the risk of a bite.

Before Heading Out

  • Choose boots that cover the ankles, pair them with thick socks, and opt for long pants that fit loosely.
  • Sandals and bare feet are a no-go.

On the Trail

  • Travelling on frequently used paths is advisable.
  • Steer clear of dense grass and unkempt vegetation.
  • Remain vigilant of your footing and the terrain ahead.
  • Nighttime wandering is not recommended.
  • Check for snakes before stepping over logs or scaling boulders.
  • Exercise caution while collecting firewood or engaging in rock climbing.
  • Ensure sleeping bags are free from snakes by shaking them, and inspect logs before sitting.

Additional Considerations

  • When swimming, refrain from grabbing floating debris which could be a disguised snake.
  • Disturbing or approaching snakes is ill-advised, as even recently deceased snakes may retain the ability to bite.

Preparing for Hiking Adventures in The Golden State

Exploring without cell phone reception presents its own set of challenges, but with adequate preparation, such trails can be enjoyed safely and responsibly.

Essential Gear

  • Incorporate an emergency blanket into your pack for warmth or to signal potential rescuers.

Not Getting Lost

  • Familiarize yourself with the hiking route beforehand.
  • Carry a compass or a GPS device.
  • Be mindful at trail intersections and watch for guide signs.
  • Track landmarks as you pass to aid in navigating your way on return.

Making an emergency call doesn’t always require a signal, as 911 services are accessible without a cell phone provider.

Handling Lack of Signal While in the Wild

Remaining composed is crucial when out of cell service range. Here’s what to do if help needs to be called upon without a connection:

Reaching Out

  • Consider carrying a satellite emergency communicator with texting abilities and an SOS feature.
  • Certain iPhones enable emergency calls via the locked screen, some even relying on satellite rather than cell data or WiFi.

If You’re Alone and Hurt

  • Securing shelter and staying where you are could be better than moving, as it makes it easier to be found. Signal as best as you can for help.
  • Attempt to reconnect with cell service if possible by tracing your steps back. Use navigational tools if needed.
  • In extreme cases, following a waterway downhill could be a last-ditch effort to find safety or help.

Response to Rattlesnake Bites

If bitten by a rattlesnake and medical aid is not immediately accessible, here’s a guide to managing the situation:

  • Keep calm to impede the venom’s spread.
  • Clean the bite area with soap and water without vigorous rubbing.
  • A damp, cool cloth can be applied to the bite site.
  • Relieve potential swelling by taking off jewelry and watches.
  • Limit movement of the affected area.
  • Take note of the snake’s appearance for identification purposes, a photo would be helpful if it can be done safely.
  • While waiting for aid, rest with the bite site lower than the heart.

Conversely, here’s what to avoid after a bite:

  • Avoid handling or trapping the snake.
  • Do not restrict blood flow with a tourniquet.
  • Do not cut the area of the bite.
  • Abstain from trying to extract the venom manually.
  • Refrain from using ice or immersing the bite in water.
  • Do not consume alcohol or caffeine.
Posted by
Thomas Caplan

Thomas Caplan is an author and avid outdoorsman who draws inspiration from nature. He enjoys hiking, tree climbing, and rock climbing, which influence his vivid storytelling and passion for the natural world in his writing.

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