SNAKE SAFETY

No one will be surprised to note that warmer temperatures allow snakes to become active.  The Ozarks is home to some spectacular non-venomous snakes and around six species of venomous ones (depending on where you are in the Ozarks).  It is unlikely that you will be bitten by a venomous snake (less than 1 in 37,500 people are bitten yearly) and even less likely that you will die from it.  You are nine times more likely to die from being struck by lightning.  That being said, there are some basic safety actions you can take when out and about.  (data from http://ufwildlife.ifas.ufl.edu/venomous_snake_faqs.shtml)

Dress wisely.  Wear leather or heavy rubber boots.  Choose loose clothing so if a snake strikes at you, it may just get some cloth and miss you.  Consider snake chaps if you are going to be in an area with a high number of venomous snakes.  Wear leather gloves if you are moving vegetation and/or rocks where snakes may reside.

Watch yourself.  Watch where you place your hands if moving vegetation and/or rocks where snakes reside.  Watch where you place your feet when walking through “snaky areas”.  When stepping over a downed log, be sure to make sure there isn’t a snake basking on the log and step far enough past the log to be out of striking distance.

Don’t take unnecessary chances.  Just because you see a venomous snake doesn’t mean you need to fondle it!  Most snake bites occur when people are messing with a snake or trying to kill it.  Frankly, if you tried to kill me, I’d bite you too.

While it is unlikely you would get bitten by a venomous snake your best action is remove any tight clothing, shoes, or jewelry (you are going to swell up).  Relax and move as little as possible (Ya, right!  Like I could do that?!?).  Get to the nearest hospital asap and call ahead to have the hospital staff contact poison control for directions.  Don’t try and catch the snake.  You could get bitten again and you are wasting valuable time.  Modern snake antivenom in the USA is a cocktail that covers several venomous species.  Arizona Poison and Drug Center is supposed to be a good resource.  1-800-222-1222.  More info at http://azpoison.com/venom/rattlesnakes.