Snakes are part of the desert; there is no way to guarantee that you won’t encounter one if you live here. However, like most wildlife, snakes are not looking to harm humans and would prefer to be left alone. Northwest Fire District has some suggestions to help you avoid them:
- Watch where you step. Rattlesnakes blend inwith their surrounding, so look where you put your foot down. Wear closed-toe shoes or boots outside and use a flashlight at night, especially as nights get warmer and rattlesnakes are more active. Keep walkways well lighted and clear of brush.
- Eliminate rodents, a favorite rattlesnake food,from around your house and yard.
- Remove what look like attractive residences for snakes. Instead of digging their own dens, rattlesnakes prefer move into existing structures. Woodpiles and junk piles should be eliminated, or moved away from the house. Fill in rodent holes and abandoned burrows.
- No wall is totally snake proof, but a solid four foot wall with a lip at the top angling outward can help discourage snakes. The bottom of the wall should be sunk into the ground and have no tunnels under it. Gates should fit snugly against the ground.
If you do encounter a snake, back slowly and deliberately away from it. Alert others in the area, restrain pets and keep an eye on the location of the snake until it moves out of the area. No one without proper training should pick up a rattlesnake, even a dead one. Reflex bites are possible from a snake that has been dead several hours.
If you are bitten by a rattlesnake follow these guidelines:
- Don’t apply ice to the bitten area.
- Don’t make an incision of any kind on the wound.
- Don’t try to suction or suck out the poison.
- Don’t use a constriction band or tourniquet.
- Don’t administer drugs or alcohol.
- Don’t use electric shock treatment.
- Do remain calm and move away from the snake.
- Do remove all jewelry, watches, etc., from the affected area.
- Do drink fluids to help prevent shock.
- Do immobilize affected area and keep at level below the heart.
- Do decrease total body activity as much as possible.
- Do seek medical attention as soon as possible.