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Do’s and Don’ts for Copperhead snake bites

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MISSOURI (WSIL) -- 85-95% of all venomous snake bites in Missouri are Copperhead bites.

Missouri Poison Control tells News 3 they've already had 12 reports of bites in June. They have some tips on how you can avoid one.

  • They say if you're hiking-wear long pants and boots or closed-toe shoes
  • Bring a stick or flashlight with you so you don't have to touch things like piles of wood
  • If you are bitten, stay calm
  • Make sure you take off clothing or jewelry around the bite area
  • Call poison control (1-800-222-1222) for immediate assistance

"We do not apply ice or any cold to it, which is kind of surprising for a bite and we also don't put anything tight or constricting on it, like a tourniquet or a band or anything because that can damage the tissue," said Missouri Poison Center Community Outreach Coordinator Amanda Ruback.

Poison control says don't cut the fang marks and do not try to suck out the venom.

The CDC offers more tips for after someone is bitten by a venomous snake:

What TO DO if You or Someone Else is Bitten by a Snake
  • If you or someone you know are bitten, try to see and remember the color and shape of the snake, which can help with treatment of the snake bite.
  • Keep the bitten person still and calm. This can slow down the spread of venom if the snake is venomous.
  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible.
  • Dial 911 or call local Emergency Medical Services (EMS).
  • Apply first aid if you cannot get the person to the hospital right away.
    • Lay or sit the person down with the bite below the level of the heart.
    • Tell him/her to stay calm and still.
    • Wash the wound with warm soapy water immediately.
    • Cover the bite with a clean, dry dressing.
What NOT TO DO if You or Someone Else is Bitten by a Snake
  • Do not pick up the snake or try to trap it (this may put you or someone else at risk for a bite).
  • Do not apply a tourniquet.
  • Do not slash the wound with a knife.
  • Do not suck out the venom.
  • Do not apply ice or immerse the wound in water.
  • Do not drink alcohol as a pain killer.
  • Do not drink caffeinated beverages.

For more tips on how to handle a bite from a venomous snake, click here for CDC tips and advice.

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Maya Skinner

Maya Skinner is a Multimedia Journalist at News 3 WSIL. Maya joined the team in 2019 and graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2018 with a Bachelor’s in Communication with a focus in Mass Media.

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