If you & your dog are getting outside this weekend, are you prepared for a possible encounter with a rattlesnake?
I sure wasn’t when we barely missed one right on the Rim trail! We were relying on Lele to warn us well ahead of time but she seemed just as surprised when we came upon it. Luckily nothing happened (and we were close to the parking lot) but it got us talking… Do we actually know what to do if we’re alone, far from help, and get bit by a rattlesnake? It turned out I had a lot of misguided notions I probably learned from the movies. So to begin with you DO not want to suck venom from the wound! And you should NOT create a tourniquet- that’s a sure fire way to lose a limb. In fact, the rattlesnake kits that are sold on the market are potentially more dangerous than helpful.
So what do you do?
First, come prepared. Bring your phone and notice when and where you have service. If you know for a fact you often don’t have service it's prudent to carry a 2‑Way Satellite Communicator, for example the Garmin inReach. Also bring Benadryl - it can help to slow the impact of the venom. Finally bring a sharpie. This is to circle the bite mark and write down the time of the bite. As the bite swells you can continue to circle the swelling and note the time. This will help give medics important information.
Now Murphy’s Law states if you bring all these things, nothing will happen right? Hopefully! But just in case it does, the first thing to do is remain calm. Move away from the snake and assess your location. If you have phone service call for help and provide accurate details of your location. If not, you’ll want to move toward help at a slow but steady pace, trying not to elevate your heart rate too high.
Remember of the 8,000 or so rattlesnake bites per year only 5 deaths occur on average, so your chances are good! And if you’re worried for your dogs, consider getting them a rattlesnake vaccine. It’s two shots over a short period. We just got Lele vaccinated! For more info and safety tips we recommend this 3 minute read: https://extramilest.com/.../what-to-do-when-a-snake.../