Santa Clara County officials: Beware snakebite season is here

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — As people are spending more and more time outdoors with the arrival of the warm weather, Santa Clara County emergency officials have a warning: Watch out for rattlesnakes.

Santa Clara County’s Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services System are reminding people that warm temperatures encourage rattlesnakes to come out. Officials are advising residents to watch where they walk to avoid running into the snakes.

Officials say keeping an eye out for rattlesnakes should be a part of everyone’s outdoor routine when exploring the region’s hills and open spaces.

“Every year fire departments in Santa Clara County respond to snake bite calls,” said Ken Kehmna, Fire Chief of the Santa Clara County Fire Department. “Knowing a few simple tips to avoid being bitten is the best prevention.”

Figures show about 7,000 people are bitten by venomous snakes in the U.S. annually, but only 0.2% (1 out of 500) venomous snake bites result in serious injury. Last year in Santa Clara County, 3 people were bitten, and all were successfully treated and released from medical care, said officials.

Emergency officials are offering these tips to keep safe from snakes:

• If you see a snake, stop and keep your distance. Give the snake plenty of room to get away.
• When hiking, wear heavy boots that are four inches above the ankle, and long pants.
• In hot weather, snakes seek cool areas. Always watch where you step and be sure to look for snakes in areas of high brush, under logs and when stepping over logs, or fallen trees.
• In cool weather, snakes seek warmer areas. Be observant for snakes sunning on rocks or trails, especially during the cooler times of day.
• NEVER try to touch a snake or scare it away; give the snake space and back away to a safe place.
• Tell a ranger or park staff if you see a snake, and NEVER try to catch it.

In the rare case of being bitten by a snake, remember these steps:

• Do not panic, remain calm, and slowly move away from the snake.
• Call 9-1-1 or send someone for help.
• DO NOT apply a cold pack, tourniquet, cut the bite, or attempt to suck out venom.
• Avoid movement of the area that was bitten.
• Keep the bite at or below heart level.
• Do not attempt to kill or catch the snake. Do try to remember what the snake looked like.
• If possible, take note of the time the bite occurred.
• Remember to remain calm and wait for help to arrive.

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