First Aid

First Aid for a Copperhead Bite

Copperhead snakes are common snakes that carry a nasty venom that can be extremely painful and sometimes deadly. They live dominantly in the eastern and southern United States. Copperheads are among the most aggressive snakes in the United States, and are more likely to bite than their more timid cousins.

If you or someone nearby is bitten by a copperhead, you need to act quickly to minimize damage and possibly save a life.

1. Get Safety

If someone has been bitten by a copperhead bite, then the snake may still be around. You need to get yourself and others away from it to avoid further bites. Though a second bite is unlikely to be extremely dangerous, you still need to be cautious.
You should never go looking for or hunting for a venomous snake. If the snake is still present and posing an immediate threat, you may try to kill or immobilize it if you can do so safely.

2. Assess the Danger

Luckily, most copperhead bites are not deadly. If the bite victim is a healthy adult, then there is probably no danger of immediate death. You should get the person to hospital as soon as possible, but there’s probably no need to call emergency services. Going without treatment for the bite can cause permanent scarring and tissue damage.

If the bit person is very young or old, or has some kind of health condition, then the copperhead bite may present a mortal danger. In that case, you should definitely call emergency services and consider rushing immediately to the hospital.

3. Treating the Wound: Things to Do

  • Calm the victim down and have him sit or lie down somewhere comfortable
  • Wash the wound with cold water and soap
  • Pour alcohol on the wound to disinfect it
  • Lower the wound beneath heart level.
  • If you have a venom extractor kit and know how to use it, then do so

4. Treating the Wound: Things NOT to Do

  • Cut the wound open
  • Attempt to suck the venom out with your mouth
  • Try to cut off circulation to the area

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