Snakebite first aid

What to do if you’re bitten by a snake.

Living in Queensland, seeing a snake is almost a rite of passage. But do you know what to do in the event of a bite?

Snakes are most active in summer and Sunshine Coast Snake Catcher Stuart McKenzie has urged Queenslanders to learn the basics of snakebite treatment.

“Firstly, telephone 000 and then apply a pressure bandage directly to the bite and the affected limb,” Mr McKenzie said.

“After a pressure bandage is applied, keep as calm and still as possible.

“Following the right protocols after being bitten can be the difference between life and death.”

Mr McKenzie said it’s essential to remain calm and restrict movements while waiting for help to arrive.

“A snake’s venom travels just below the skin so the more active you are the faster the venom will spread throughout your body,” he said.

“By staying calm and immediately applying a pressure bandage, you can prevent the venom from spreading to your organs.”

Mr McKenzie said the common Hollywood technique of sucking out the venom was pure misinformation.

“There’s no need to suck out the venom – people shouldn’t even wash the bite,” he said.

“When doctors and paramedics treat a snakebite, they need to test the venom to identify the snake.”

Mr McKenzie said going after a snake to identify it only increased the risk of being bitten.

“Snakes are not animals you mess around with and you should never underestimate their power and the potency of their venom,” he said.

“I've had colleagues bitten by venomous snakes and it's terrifying – some have recovered in two weeks and others have had lingering health issues they’ve dealt with for the rest of their lives.”

Mr McKenzie said snake activity was rampant in summer as the coldblooded animals liked to bask in the simmering heat.

“Everyone needs to stay on their toes and keep an eye on their pets and children in the backyard,” he said.

“If you see a snake, keep your distance and call a professional.”

Queensland Health’s top 5 things to do if bitten by a snake:

  1. Call an ambulance immediately.
  2. Don’t panic and don’t move.
  3. Leave the snake alone.
  4. Apply a pressure immobilisation bandage and splint.
  5. Don’t wash, suck, cut or tourniquet the bite.