A snake bite can be a scary wound and many people have a heightened fear of what happens after you get bitten. After all, there is some reason to worry, especially if the snake that bit you was venomous. Even then, it’s not all bad news if you have the right snake bite kit.
Maybe you’re wondering what exactly a snake bite kit is, what it includes and how it will help you if you are bitten with a fanged reptile. Read on below to find out everything you need to know about getting the right snake bite kit and how it can benefit you.
Snakes are deadly. We read about them in literature, they’re said to be the reason for people dying (thanks for the temptation, Adam and Eve), but are they really that bad? Nah, but they’re super deadly if you come across the wrong snake.
The best snake bite kit can add hours to your window of death or getting to the hospital for antivenin.
Table of Contents
- What is a Snake Bite?
- 6 Symptoms of a Snake Bite
- Why You Need a First Aid Kit for a Snake Bite
- 5 Best Snake Bite Kit Recommended
- Do Snake Bite Kits Work?
- A Wilderness First Aid Kit is Also a Good Choice
- What’s Included in the Kit?
- What To Do If You Get Bitten
- What an ER Visit Looks Like
- More Tips of What Not to Do
What is a Snake Bite?
A snake bite is when a snake bites a human – or another animal. Dogs, cats and other animals can be bitten by a snake, too. Snake venom experts recommend immediate action be taken after a bite if you don’t know if the snake is venomous or not.
6 Symptoms of a Snake Bite
Medical care is needed if you’ve suffered from a snakebite, but you might also want to know the symptoms of a bite before worrying yourself to death. In the United States, there are 7,000 snake bites per year, and not all of them need a venom extractor kit to ensure you’ll survive.
Poisonous snakes account for less than 20% of all bites. Some of the symptoms of a snake bite include:
- Puncture marks
- Swelling and redness
- Pain at the site of the bite
- Vomiting and nausea (venomous bites)
- Troubled vision (venomous bites)
- Trouble breathing (venomous bites)
If the venom spreads, the potency of snake venom increases and can cause:
- Nervous system interruption
- Blood coagulation
Death can occur rapidly, depending on the venom and snake. There are rare times when a venomous snake will attack, causing a dry bite. A dry bite doesn’t pose any risks, but it can be a terrifying ordeal.
I don’t want a snake lunging at me. Do you?
Probably not. But if the snake isn’t venomous, there is little to worry about. A puncture wound may be present, and in this case, you’ll want to clean the site of the wound to ensure that the problem doesn’t result in an infection.
A snakebite wound that is properly cleaned and nonvenomous will heal on its own, leaving no lasting issues behind.
Why You Need a First Aid Kit for a Snake Bite
Well, a first aid kit will allow you to have enough time to get to the doctor and stop any bleeding that may be present. I’ve made a handy list of items below that you’ll need to keep in your kit for the best chance of survival and lowest risk of infection.
Again if the snake is venomous, you’ll wanted to go to a licensed health-care facility.
But, let’s just imagine your luck for a brief second. You’re out in the wilderness, going on the adventure of a lifetime, and there is no one around for days. The moment you sit down, you notice a beautiful snake that slithers and strikes you before you can even blink.
Maybe the snake was distributed, or maybe you stepped on a snake egg along the way – who knows?
You can’t just sit down and die.
A snakebite kit will boost your chances of survival. But, you need the best snake bite kit, not some cheap knockoff that you didn’t realize was a ripoff until you’re stuck on the floor unable to move as the venom slowly causes paralysis and a painful death.
Lucky for you, I have a few kits to recommend:
5 Best Snake Bite Kit Recommended
You’ve been bitten. It’s time to take immediate action. Snakebite medicine isn’t in your pocket, but you have a Coghlans kit in your bag and it’s time to move fast. Coghlans kit is a bit different than the rest, and you’ll need to hustle to the doctor as fast as you can.
Dubbed a “complete kit,” this kit includes a few must-have necessities:
- Pillable suction cups
- Antiseptic swab
- Lymph constrictor
Whew, there are even instructions that come along with the kit so that you don’t get lost playing doctor. The scalpel is to cut the area where the bite occurred, and it’s believed that by draining the blood using this method, the user will be able to reduce the venom filling up their body.
Constricting blood flow, as this product recommends, is a short-term solution, but it slows the movement of venom to allow you a few vital hours to seek medical attention.buy now
Sawyer extraction is a fine method of removing poison from the body, and it’s a pump vacuum. The idea is simple, but when you’re fighting a life or death battle here, you need simple. This product is world known, and it’s used for snake bites, bee stings and bites from other pests, too.
Use this kit along with Coghlans for best results.
The extractor pump kit comes with 4 different sizes plastic cups that are placed over the fang holes to suck out the venom.
All you need is one hand to use the pump, and a simple pull back of the pump works to extract the venom from the area. The key to living is to act as fast as possible, so use the device and remove as much venom as possible as quickly as possible.
If you wait too long, the venom will move deep into the body, making it nearly impossible to remove it all.
The kit includes: alcohol pads, sting care wipes, razor, adhesive bandages and the pump.buy now
- Antiseptic wipes
- Adhesive bandages
- Venom extraction pump
- Ammonia inhalants
I recommend keeping this kit on you at all times if you’ll be in the wilderness long. I have even refilled the kit numerous times because the included items are all priceless. The pump helps remove the venom, while the wipes and bandages keep the site of the wound clean unless proper medical attention is sought.
The kit is an item you hope you’ll never have to use, but when a snake strikes, it’s the one item everyone wishes they had by their side.buy now
Two kits for the price of one (or a bit higher). This kit removes venom and poison from the body, and it utilizes the same extractor pump as the previous kit on the list. But, it’s double the fun with two kits to keep in your first aid kit.
The kit includes a lot of goodies I think you’ll appreciate, such as:
- Vacuum pump
- 4 suction tips
- Alcohol pads
- Sting care pads
- Shaving razor
- Bite and sting booklet
It’s filled with a lot of great must-have items, and the sting booklet is very helpful, too.
Camping, hiking, doing anything in nature that might involve a random snake slithering over your foot and deciding it’s time to strike an innocent person? Yeah, you need this kit.buy now
KONMED offers a state-of-the-art emergency first aid kit with one goal: to remove venom from a victim. This extractor pump kit comes with a high-end pump, adapters, swab, cleaning pad and tourniquet that can remove snake venom and venom from stings, too.
Negative pressure technology removes the venom in a local tissue injury.
And if you get bitten by an exceptionally large snake, there are cups that will fit over the wound to help remove the venom. Studies show that this first aid supply can help remove the venom of a rattlesnake from the body.
Compact, this kit should be in everyone’s backpack or car just in case an emergency strikes.buy now
Do Snake Bite Kits Work?
There are some questions as to whether snake bite kits really work. The first and most important thing to know is that snake bite kits are not meant to be a replacement for professional medical care – no matter if they work well or not.
They’re meant to be a salve until you can get looked at by an actual doctor. That is why you shouldn’t go believing that you’re an expert just because you have a couple of ointments and gauze strips. Snake bite kits were never meant to be used in that manner.
Researchers have studied the venom extractors that come along with the kit and concluded that they do remove some fluid but extract much venom.
This doesn’t mean everything in a snake bite kit is not helpful though. Snake bite kits do come in useful and there are actually some kits that may perform better than others. Continue reading to discover what a snake bite kit can offer.
A Wilderness First Aid Kit is Also a Good Choice
The truth is that even the best snakebite kit might not save your life. If you’re relying on only a kit, you’ll be playing a game of “who knows?” Snake venom is strong enough to kill an elephant, and you’re just a small human.
Imagine how deadly venom can be when a single dose can kill 100 people.
The best you can do is prepare and hope you have one of the best commercial snakebite kits money can buy. And even then, there’s still a risk that the venom will cause lasting damage and lead to death. While preparing to seek immediate medical attention, you can turn to your wilderness first aid kit for a little help.
What should you include in your kit?
I’m glad you asked. I recommend bringing:
- Outdoor first aid book. Unless you’re a doctor, bring a first aid kit to help guide you along your path of life or death.
- Plastic gloves. Every kit needs plastic gloves just in case.
- Pressure bandage. Blood is dripping everywhere and you feel faint. What can you do? Apply a pressure bandage to stop the bleeding before you faint.
- Adhesive tape. Tape is vital, and adhesive tape keeps your wound covered and safe to lower risk of infection.
- Instant cold pack. Swelling can be alleviated with an instant cold pack, but don’t think this will do anything for the venom coursing through your body – it won’t.
- Triangular bandages. A pack of triangular bandages can be used to cover up the fang marks and slow blood loss.
- Curved scissors. A pair of curved scissors is a good thing to have, and these scissors will allow you to make quick work out of odd-shaped bandages.
- Steri-strips. Steri-strips are really butterfly closures, which is an alternative to stitches. This helpful strip can help stop massive blood loss and allows you to close a wound that would normally require stitches.
These are all good items to keep inside of your first aid kit, and the kit should also have a snake bite extractor or snake bite suction devices to help in the event you’re bitten by a snake. Commercially available extractors are recommended – do not try to make your own.
I am all for the DIY route, but when it comes to your life, can you really sit back and risk the chance of death because you were too cheap to buy a real extractor? I didn’t think so.
If you’re going to be staying or going through an area where snakes are in abundance, also bring along snake boots and any other proper gear. While snakes will only bother you if they feel threatened, you can never tell when one might be nearby and feel threatened by you walking too close.
Proper safety equipment, first aid kits and snake bite kits may prove to be your only chance of survival.
What’s Included in the Kit?
Along with a snake bite kit, you should also have a normal first aid kit to help hold you over until you can get professional medical treatment. However, there are some things a good snake bite kit should always have.
- Venom Extractor
A venom extractor – most likely suction-based – is a tool that is used for the purpose of sucking snake venom out of your wound if you get bit by a poisonous snake.
As stated above, there has been some concern recently over the effectiveness of these extractors, but they’re not all the same. Without a doubt, some are better than others.
Research carefully to find a snake bite kit that includes a venom extractor with good reviews and maybe even has a medical professional endorsing it. If you find a good venom extractor, it can mean the difference between life and death.
The trick is knowing whether the venom extractor you’ve chosen is the best and that will take some searching around if you want to take that risk.
Another useful tool in a snake bite kit is rubbing alcohol or alcohol wipes. You apply this to a wound to help disinfect it or prevent your wound from becoming infected. It can also be useful in cleaning the wound.
If you have a lot of hair on your legs, you will find this item in a snake bite kit useful. You will use this razor to shave or clear the area so that you can work better and maybe even see the wound better. As a result, you’ll clearly know what you’re dealing with.
A razor is not always necessary if your hair is sparse, if you’re clean-shaven, or if you can work around the hair. However, it is always nice to have a clean and clear area to inspect.
Of course, bandages will also come in the kit. They are useful so that you can dress the wound and prevent any germs or bacteria from getting in, after you’ve dressed and tended to. The bandages will be more than just your standard, general-store bandages.
They should be long enough to wrap around your wound and provide a secure dressing for well-sized snake bites as well as small ones. You may need to read reviews to find out which snake bite kit has the best feedback in the case of bandages.
A snake bite kit should also always include instructions about how to use the items provided inside the kit.
You should already have some know-how on how to treat your wounds if you’re going hiking or going somewhere that involves the potential threat of a snake bite. However, even in the cheapest kits, you should have instructions.
There should also be some sort of snake identification sheet, letting you know about deadly snakes and what to look out for.
Are All of These Items Needed?
None of these items should be missing from a standard snake bite kit. If one or more of these items are missing, you should start to look for another kit or be cautious.
What To Do If You Get Bitten
If the worst happens and you get bitten by a venomous snake, there are steps you can take to help yourself.
If you happen to get bitten when you are in or near civilization, that is different than if you get bitten in the middle of nowhere and you only have yourself to depend on.
If Bitten Near Civilization
1. Leave the Immediate Area
The first thing you will want to do is remove yourself from the area where you got bitten. After all, you don’t want to get bitten again.
2. Be Able to Describe the Snake
Try to discern and identify the snake before completely leaving the area. Hopefully, you will have seen it before or during its bite, so you’ll know what color it was, how large it was, etc.
A description will help someone identify what kind of snake bit you and what the best treatment for that particular venom is – or whether it’s a venomous snake at all.
3. Stay Calm
The worst thing you can do is panic. A snake bite isn’t always deadly and if it is, you still have time. Even some of the deadliest snakes have venom that doesn’t always travel that quickly. Just find help as soon as you can.
Staying calm will also keep your mind clear and help you find a medical center or person who can help more easily.
4. Find Medical Attention
If you have your cell phone on you, which most people do these days, then call a medical professional as soon as possible. If you don’t have a cell phone with you, walk to your nearest medical center and get attention. Then, have someone look at your wound.
If You’re on Your Own
If there’s no one near to help you, a few of the above tips are still useful. Stay calm, call someone no matter how far out you are as long as you have service on your cell phone, remove yourself from the area and identify the snake.
However, some more specific steps to take include:
1. Keep Wounded Area Unrestricted
Remove any clothing that may become tight around the extremity where you were bitten. You will probably start to swell and you don’t want to cut off circulation. Some people may think that’s a good thing to keep the venom from spreading, but it’s actually dangerous.
2. Keep Heart Rate Down
Try not to rush even though you will want to quickly find help somehow. Don’t start running around and panicking. If your heart rate is elevated, the venom may spread more quickly and become deadlier.
3. Keep Track of Time
Try to find help within a span of 12-24 hours, because any longer than that is dangerous.
4. Things to Know
Keeping calm may be hard to do after you get bitten by a snake, as you may think most snake bites are deadly. However, that’s not always the case. Snake bites can be treated with the right help and if they’re taken care of in a timely manner.
The people who suffer death from snake bites usually die from an allergic reaction to the bite, not because of the snake bite itself. Severe heart problems and weak immune systems also contribute as to why a person may die from a snake bite.
However, if you’re healthy, in good shape and don’t have an allergic reaction to the bite, there’s a good chance you will survive as long as you get the wound treated as soon as possible.
What an ER Visit Looks Like
Once you’ve notified authorities and have made it to a medical center of some kind, the doctor who has been tasked with seeing you will most likely get a brief history of you as a patient – any past illnesses, allergies, etc.
Past allergies can be especially important because they want to make sure you’re not allergic to any products that may be in any antivenom that they will need to give you.
Of course, it would help if you had a regular doctor who already knew those things about you or who had all of that paperwork on file at the hospital already.
However, it’s not always guaranteed that you’ll be able to make it to a doctor you’re familiar with, since you will want to get this looked at and treated as soon as possible.
The doctor will then focus on what the bite looks like, how it feels, etc. and he or she will get a description of the snake. Doctors will measure swelling and rate of swelling, draw blood and run other tests.
The variation of tests and how many they run depends on how serious the bite wound is and what your medical history is. The doctor will decide which antivenom to use with the results of these tests.
He or she may also consult a toxicologist to determine how much antivenom is required to treat you completely and not cause any added risks.
More Tips of What Not to Do
We’ve talked about what to do in case of a snake bite, but let’s talk more about what not to do.
1. Do Not Attempt to Capture the Snake
If you do this, you will risk getting another bite. Just memorize its colors, length and other helpful hints to identify it. After all, you don’t need to physically have it with you when you go to the hospital.
2. Do Not Drink Caffeinated Beverages
They may increase your heart rate or cause you to become dehydrated.
3. Do Not Wait
Seek medical attention immediately – whether you see symptoms or not as well as whether you feel pain or not. Even if there’s no swelling, redness, numbness, or shortness of breath, seek medical attention as soon as possible if you’ve been bitten.
This is because symptoms could be delayed.
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4. Do Not Drink Alcohol
This can impair your senses and make getting real help more difficult.
5. Do Not Use a Tourniquet
They have done this in movies, but you are unfortunately not in a movie. It is, in fact, dangerous to do this.
6. Do Not Apply Ice or Submerge the Wound in Water
Without a doubt, the wound will be painful and it might even feel as if it is burning, but do not ice it.
7. Do Not Cut the Wound with a Knife
You may think this is the right move in order to reduce swelling, pus, or venom. However, it’s not, so you shouldn’t do it.
All of these things may either exacerbate the movement of venom through your bloodstream or it will cause further damage. Many of these things have been done in movies or television shows to “combat” venom spreading, but that is fiction.