By Peace Nakitto Kibirige
It was very sad to know what happened to the retired Bishop for church of Uganda’s Soroti Diocese, the late Geresom Ilukor. But this gives us an insight into the best ways to prevent snake bites.
It is actually trying to keep them out of our reach. You can do this by removing their survival needs, especially shelter or hiding places. During warm months, when snakes are active and when most people see them, they are attracted to cool, damp shelter;
· Remove cover such as board, piled lying on the ground, brick piles, and weedy growth near buildings. Repair and close off cracks in cement walks or porches that might provide an entrance to snakes for shelter.
· Check storage places to see if snakes might crawl beneath for cover. If so, close off access beneath the shed with packed soil or building materials such as metal or 1/4-inch or smaller hardware cloth.
· Snakes will use holes made by mice or other rodents, so controlling these rodents may be needed. Often, removing snake shelter and hiding spots also removes the habitat of insects and rodents that are snake food.
· Keep the grass short and avoiding walking in bushy areas, if you can, stick to open areas where you can see what you are stepping on.
· In case you encounter a snake, stay calm until you get help, or walk away. Never try killing a snake with a stick or stone, it is possible that would harm you.
· Always walk with a flashlight at night. This is to see what you are stepping on.
In case of a snake bite;
1. If you can, always identify the snake that bit you. This will give more information on the kind of treatment that you will be given.
2. Wash the bite with soap and water as soon as possible. You want to remove as much of the snake’s spit as you can.
3. Keep the bitten area below the heart. This is done to slow the flow of the venom.
3. Take off any rings or watches. The venom is going to make you swell, and jewelry might cut off your circulation.
4. Tightly wrap a bandage two to four inches above the bite. If you can’t reach medical care within 30 minutes, wrap a bandage around the bitten appendage. This is to assist in reducing the flow of venom. You want to make it tight, but not too tight as to completely cut off the appendage’s circulation. That will only cause tissue damage.
5. Seek medical attention from the nearest health facility in your area.
1. Cut the wound. This isn’t a smart move because you increase the chances of causing an infection in the area.
2. Suck the venom. You don’t want the venom in your mouth where it can get back into your bloodstream.
3. Apply ice to the wound. Ice can cause tissue and skin damage and inhibits the removal of venom.
4. Panic. If you’ve been bitten, try to avoid freaking out. If you’re with someone who has been bitten, try to keep them calm. The more you move and the faster your heart beats, the quicker the venom is going to be circulated throughout your body. So do your best to stay calm and remain as still as humanely possible.
The writer works with Jane Goodall Institute – Uganda