Snakes in Brisbane | Avoiding slithering Summer visitors
Snakes. It’s probably not the first ‘S’ word most of us associate with Summer. But as the weather warms up, close encounters with these feared reptiles can become more common. And so can snake bites.
In September and October 2014 alone, the RACQ CareFlight helicopter transported seven Queenslanders to hospital after they were bitten by snakes. At least four of those patients were children.
According to the Environment Department, 27 species of land-based snakes can be found in the Brisbane area. The most common include Carpet Pythons and Tree Snakes. There are venomous ones too – including the Coastal Taipan, Tiger Snake, Rough-scaled Snake, Eastern Brown Snake and the charmingly named Death Adder. Eeek.
The department says only the Eastern Brown Snake is regularly found in Brisbane suburbs. It is highly venomous and looks like this:
What to do
Now we don’t want to scare the bejeezus out of everyone, because Eastern Brown Snake bites are probably quite rare. But it doesn’t hurt to brush up on what to do if someone is bitten by a snake.
St John’s Ambulance recommend the following:
- Follow DRSABCD (Danger, Response, Airway, Breathing, Compression, Defibrillation)
- Reassure the patient and ask them not to move.
- Apply a broad crepe bandage over the bite site as soon as possible.
- Apply a pressure bandage (heavy crepe or elasticised roller bandage) starting just above the fingers or toes of the bitten limb, and move upwards on the limb as far as can be reached (include the snake bite). Apply firmly without stopping blood supply to the limb.
- Immobilise the bandaged limb with splints.
- Ensure the patient does not move.
- Write down the time of the bite and when the bandage was applied. Stay with the patient.
- Regularly check circulation in fingers or toes.
- Manage for shock.
- Ensure an ambulance has been called.
Do not: wash venom off the skin, cut the bitten area, try to suck venom out of the wound, use a tourniquet, catch the snake.
Don’t try this at home!
Experts say there are several tips you can follow to avoid snake bites:
- Reduce rubbish where snakes could shelter.
- Use gloves and boots when moving rubbish.
- Check shoes and buckets etc if they’ve been left outside.
- Encourage children to retrieve balls from bushes with sticks rather than their hands.
- Be on the lookout ….
And, most importantly, do not try to move or catch snakes. Leave them alone. And if you really need one moved, call a professional snake whisperer!