CHILDREN’S HEALTH: SNAKE BITES

There are about 20 varieties of poisonous snakes in Australia. Parents should discover if they occur in the area in which they live and learn how to identify them. If a child is bitten, try to kill the snake and take it to the hospital with the child, for correct identification of the snake will permit the appropriate anti-venom to be given, which may be life-saving.

Treatment
Immediately apply a firm, constricting bandage over the snake bite and along the whole length of the limb. This should be as firm as bandaging a sprained ankle. This reduces both the production of lymph and its absorption and flow back towards the heart. The bandage should be kept in place until medical help is available, and may be tolerated for several hours without distress or damage to the limb. (There is no need for the use of a tourniquet in any case of envenomation in Australia.) Immobilize the whole limb by applying a splint, using a stick, a piece of wood or even rolled cardboard. Reassure and rest the victim, elevate the limb and transport to the nearest hospital or medical centre. Do not wash the wound, cut it, attempt to suck out the poison or allow the victim to use any physical effort.

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