Summer is here and the weather is getting hot! I’m not sure about you, but I love the warm weather, and I’m not the only one. Snakes love coming to the surface and curling up in warm places! Working in the field, snakes can become a huge safety hazard. Let’s take a look at some of the best practices and facts.
Snakes and Your Surroundings
Snakes love laying in the heat, but need to cool off eventually. They love hiding under objects and finding some shade. Before starting work, check your entire work area for hidden creatures and make sure to continue checking throughout your entire shift.
Pay extra attention to materials on pallets, this is one place where our slithery friends like to hide. Also remember to check when opening any doors and walking into equipment.
In Case of Emergency
If an individual does get bit, everyone’s first instinct is to look for a snake bite kit, however, it is highly debated on whether or not snake bite kits actually work. The best case scenario is flight for life because they will almost always carry anti-venom with them. Therefore, always document your coordinates upon arrival to the location so you can easily tell flight for life where they can find you.
If flight for life is not a viable option, then getting the injured person to the closest medical center will be your next best bet. Locally here in the DJ Basin, the hospitals that have anti-venom on hand include:
Poudre Valley (Fort Collins)
Northern Colorado Medical Center (Greeley)
When bitten, the sense of emergency an individual may feel can increase their heart beat which, in turn, makes the venom spread faster throughout their body. So make sure the injured stays as calm as they can. In the same sense, transporting the bitten person should be avoided if possible because the vibration in the roads and heightened feel of urgency may raise their heart rate as well.
The bitten individual needs to seek medical attention within 2 hours of the bite.
Facts that might save your life, or at least a finger...
There are about 30 species of snakes native to Colorado, however, only 3 of them are venomous: the prairie, Western, and massasauga rattlesnakes. While only these 3 are venomous, all of the other snakes do still have teeth and know how to use them. So it is best to avoid the urge to touch, disturb, and play with them when possible.
While baby snakes may look less harmful, they cannot control the use of their venom. This gives them the potential to be more dangerous, not knowing how much venom they are putting into your body.
Lastly, the average striking distance of a snake is twice its length. For instance, a coach whip snake can grow up to 70 inches in length (almost 6 feet). That means even if you are standing 12 feet away from them, they could still potentially reach you. Safe practices suggest standing AT LEAST 5 extra feet away from the snake at all times.
Snakes are a natural hazard that doesn’t come to mind until we are literally face to face with it. Just remember, always know and communicate the best plan of action if anyone is ever bit or confronted by a snake while working. Also, know the closest medical facilities, and, if you’re not sure, call ahead of time to confirm they have anti-venom on hand.