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Snakes on Trails


Spring time means that snakes are coming out in search of some sun. Here are some tips provided by survival expert, Bob Cooper.

  • Do not approach a snake: it doesn’t know what your intention is, and that you are just observing or trying to help.
  • You can make a snake very scared by pointing and waving your arms in the air above the snake, so instead, keep your movements calm and slow.
  • Don’t ride over or too close to a snake as they will strike a moving bike.  Killing them is illegal and can attract heavy fines. 
  • Your boots will help protect your legs, but if you fall near one move away slowly and keep low to avoid casting a shadow over them.

There are 8 species of venomous snakes in Australia that are considered to have life-threatening venom. Fortunately these belong to one group of snakes known as elapids, meaning they have fixed front fangs. The average length would be 4-6mm on a metre long snake and up to 12mm on a very large snake. These relatively small fangs means that by wearing your riding boots and motorcycle protective gear you can greatly decrease the chance of a snake successfully piercing you skin.

In the event of a bite Bob Cooper advocates the pressure and immobilisation technique (PIT) as the most effective first-aid treatment for all venomous land and sea snake bites in Australia and other elapid snakes worldwide. 

Says Bob: "The short fangs of the elapid snake deliver the venom into our lymphatic system and not directly into our blood stream. The bandaging slows the venom movement and absorption rate down to as much as one twentieth, buying the victim much more time to get to hospital.” 

The Pressure Immobilisation Technique (PIT) is recommended for the application to bites and stings in the following creatures: burrowing snakes, funnel web spiders, blue ringed octopus, and cone shells.

You need 3 x 10 cm compression bandages that can maintain the correct pressure and will remain tight. If the victim is bitten or stung on a limb, apply a broad pressure bandage about 20cm above the bite and wrap downwards. The bandage should be firm and tight – you should be unable to easily slide a finger between the bandage and the skin. 

Apply the 2nd pressure bandage, where the first ended wrap upwards upward covering as much of the limb as possible. 

The 3rd bandage should cover the rest of the limb until it reaches the body. The purpose of this bandage is to further restrict lymphatic flow and assist immobilisation. Mark the spot of the bite, keep the patient as still as possible and get help!

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