How to stay safe from snakes - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

How to stay safe from snakes

A doctor at Trinity Medical Center says about 50 percent of snake bites are "dry," meaning there is no venom involved. Source: WBRC video A doctor at Trinity Medical Center says about 50 percent of snake bites are "dry," meaning there is no venom involved. Source: WBRC video

It's that time of year again: snakes are on the move. The slithery reptiles are out in warmer weather.

University Hospital and Trinity Medical Center is not reporting an increase in snake bites but due to social media, news of snake sightings have increased.

Ross Bridge homeowners have reported seeing snakes recently.

"Yesterday I saw a very large snake about five feet long, just black, that was very thick and it moved very quickly," Stefany Habegger said.

Habegger, a mother of three young boys, said a copperhead was spotted on the neighborhood trail into the woods and at other homes.

At the Birmingham Zoo, one of the reptile keepers says there is no influx of snakes.

"This is the peak time. They are going to be basking in the sun, roadways. We are going to see a lot of snakes. Of course they are coldblooded, they are going to depend on the sun for their energy," Dustin Piontek said.

If you walk in the yard or woods, you should definitely be aware since snakes are not easily seen.

Most people are advised to stay away from them if they don't know if the snake is venomous or no. People should call animal control or exercise extreme caution if they want the snakes removed.

So what should a person do if they are bitten by a snake?

"Seek help. Go to the ER. Let the doctor evaluate it. At the scene you should immobilize the extremity. Usually it's an extremity, a hand or foot that gets bitten," Dr. Diamond Vrocher of Trinity Medical Center said.

Once you arrive at a hospital, a snake bite victim will not automatically be given anti-venom like Crofab, which is expensive. A doctor will try to determine if you are infected with venom first.

"Half or most of all snake bites are dry bite. There is no venom involved with them. The first thing they doctor is going to do is take a look a the bite, see how you are in general," Vrocher said.

During the summer months, people seek ways to protect their homes and family. Many inquire about repellant to drive off snakes.

Some consider mothballs, lime or store bought repellants. Piontek has doubts about many of these repellants.

The best advice? Keep your yard mowed, debris cleared and remove potential food for snakes.

"The best thing would be stay on top of pest control. Rodents are going to attrack these snakes, bring them out.The can smell them from a distance. That would be the best thing, have your rodents under control," Piontek said.

So what about snake bite kits? Dr. Vrocher said do not use razors to cut bite wounds and try to suck the venom out. Vrocher said a person's mouth contains a lot of bacteria. Also you should not use a tourniquet. The best thing to do is to seek emergency medical care quickly.

More info:

Is that snake poisonous? on the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources website

Snakebites: First aid on the Mayo Clinic's website

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