What to do in the event of a rattlesnake bite

Posted at 2:51 PM, Apr 28, 2017

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - It's not the season anyone looks forward to, but it's one San Diego residents need to be reminded of.

As snake season slithers into San Diego County, it's helpful to know what exactly is recommended should you be bitten by a snake.

The City of San Diego says the most common - and worrisome - rattlesnake in San Diego County is the Southern Pacific, or the Western Rattlesnake. They are generally found near housing developments, parks, and sometimes at the beach.

So what happens if you are bitten? Stay calm and call 9-1-1 immediately. It's the first and most crucial step to take.

RELATED: Rattlesnake vaccinations help avoid potential pain for dogs

While you wait for emergency assistance to arrive, remove any watches, rings, or other articles of clothing or accessories that could constrict swelling.

Immobilize the area of the bite and keep it lower than heart level. You should also clean the bite area (with soap and water) and cover it with a clean compress or moist dressing.

While help is en route, be aware of vital signs. 

The City of San Diego also warns:

  • Do NOT apply a tourniquet
  • Do NOT pack the area in ice packs or heat packs
  • Do NOT cut the wound with a knife or razor
  • Do NOT use your mouth to suck out venom
  • Do NOT let the victim drink alcohol
  • Do NOT let the victim do any strenuous activity
  • Do NOT apply electric shock

Of course, the easiest way to treat a snake bite is not to be bitten, to begin with. Be alert of your surroundings.

The number one recommendation is to simply leave snakes alone. If you spot one, stay away. Don't try to kill it. Even if the snake is dead, it's not recommended you handle it, as it can still inject venom.

San Diego County residents are encouraged to call the county's Animal Control department at 619-236-2341. If you're out and about hiking,  stay on trails as much as possible. Stay out of tall grass and keep your hands and feet out of areas you cannot see.

The state's Department of Fish and Wildlife recommend anyone hiking to hike with a buddy and wear sturdy boots and loose-fitting long pants. Also, never grab "sticks" or "branches" while swimming in lakes or rivers - rattlesnakes can swim too. 

When it comes to pets, DFW warns to never let your dog off the leash in areas with snake activity.