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Snakebite Season

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With the warm weather comes snake activity. 

It is no secret that with the warmer months in Australia comes a huge increase in snake activity across the country, as our scaly friends come out of brumation in search of a meal and a mate.

Most of us in the outdoor industry have had an encounter or two with a snake in our careers, and most are usually a harmless experience that now makes for a good story around the break table. This can, on the occasion, result in a fairly relaxed attitude regarding snakes and in the past decade in Outdoor Ed, I have heard my fair share of worrying statements regarding snake safety and first-aid. Most of these revolve around the statistic that, according to the University of Sydney, there are on average 3000 recorded snake bites in Australia each year, and yet only 2 of these result in death. This overlooks the fact that more than 300 of the bites result in envenomation, which whilst won’t always result in death, can lead to long-term damage to a person’s cardiovascular and nervous systems. The reality is that if a client in our care (or ourselves for that matter) is bitten by a snake, it is a serious incident that may have far-reaching repercussions if it’s not handled correctly.

So how do we get properly prepared? As with everything in the industry, training and effective equipment of course!

First Aid Supplies

There are a huge range of outdoor-specific first-aid kits available on the market, and a lot of you reading this will carry a kit on a daily basis that meets the specific standards of your various organisations.

However, anyone working in the outdoors should be, at the very least, carrying a bandage specifically designed for snake bites such as the Aeroform Premium Snakebite Bandage. The classic crepe or elastic-style bandages are no longer standard, as they provide very little control over the regulation of venous drainage and very minimal coverage. Pressure indicator bandages on the other hand, are printed with a series of indicators that show when the correct pressure is reached. The Aeroform bandage is 4.5m long when stretched. (Also comes in 10.5M for Single Bandage use). They are standard in our Snake Bite Module

Call us for further advice on first-aid kits and where to purchase - or for OE Industry products including Gaiters and all the All Aid Supplies range at Industry pricing - contact our Training Partners or Equipped Outdoors here


Equipped Outdoors ALWAYS recommends all of your staff undertake training at a registered training organisation. Even basic First Aid courses provide valuable knowledge of what to do in a snake bite scenario and may mean the difference between a well handled situation and a disaster.

First Aid techniques are continually evolving, so it's important to refreash your knowledge in between courses. The Australian Venom Research Unit is a great source of in-depth information and of course Youtube is always an option, where the likes of Bob Cooper provide simple and to-the-point instructional videos.

For the time-poor, blogs such as this, and the one published by QORF last year, are great way to stay up to date on any changes, such as the range of recommendations published in 2017 by the Australian Flying Docter Service (based on the Australian Snakebite Project) that may come in handy as a refresher:

Many dangerous myths surround the treatment of snakebites. The most important dos and don’ts include.

  • Do NOT wash the area of the bite or try to suck out the venom. It is extremely important to retain traces of venom for use with venom identification kits.
  • Do NOT incise or cut the bite, or apply a high tourniquet. Cutting or incising the bite won’t help. High tourniquets are ineffective and can be fatal if released.
  • Do bandage firmly, splint and immobilise to stop the spread of venom. All the major medical associations recommend slowing the spread of venom by placing a folded pad over the bite area and then applying a firm bandage. It should not stop blood flow to the limb or congest the veins. Only remove the bandage in a medical facility, as the release of pressure will cause a rapid flow of venom through the bloodstream.
  • Do NOT allow the victim to walk or move their limbs. Use a splint or sling to minimise all limb movement. Put the patient on a stretcher or bring transportation to the patient.
  • Do seek medical help immediately as the venom can cause severe damage to health or even death within a few hours.

Feel you need to update your snakebite First Aid knowledge?Start with Aero First Aid's snake bite info pagebut nothing beatsup-to-date practical training!

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