FIRST AID FACT SHEET
How to provide first aid for a snake bite
Snake bites are not common in Australia, but all should be treated as life-threatening. Snakes force venom out under pressure through fangs in the upper jaw. The spread of snake venom depends on its absorption through the lymphatic system.
What to do
- Follow DRSABCD St John Action Plan.
- Urgent medical aid. Call Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance.
- Ensure the casualty does not move
- Lay the casualty down, rest and reassure.
- If the bite is on a limb, apply a broad pressure bandage over the bite site as soon as possible.
- Then apply a further elasticised or firm bandage - start at fingers or toes and move up the limb as far as can be reached. Apply tightly but without stopping blood flow.
- Splint the limb including the joints on either side of the bite.
- Write down the time that the casualty was bitten and when the bandage was applied.
- Wash the venom off the skin (it may aid in identification).
- Cut the bitten area and try to suck the venom out of the wound.
- Use a tourniquet.
- Try and catch the snake.
- Fangs puncturing the skin.
Signs and symptoms
- Visible in an hour or more after the person has been bitten.
- In children, signs and symptoms may appear within minutes.
- Puncture marks or scratches, may bleed.
- Nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
- Headache, drowsiness, giddiness or faintness.
- Double or blurred vision, drooping eyelids.
- Voice changes, trouble speaking or swallowing.
- Pain or tightness in the throat, chest or abdomen.
- Breathing difficulties, respiratory weakness or arrest.