Monday, January 24, 2011

Snake Bite


One of the ironic things about planning for safety and survival is that we usually end up spending money, lots of it, on things we hope to never use. It’s money we hope we are wasting. This would include things like EPIRBS (emergency position indicating radio beacons), life rafts, fire extinguishers, signal mirrors, etc. One item that has to make this list is, without a doubt, the snake bite kit. Wild rivers, black waters, marshes and swamps all mean you’re in survival conditions in close proximity with poisonous snakes, so I felt compelled to order a snake bite kit for the survival pack. This one comes from Sawyer Products, of Safety Harbor, Florida (, and I ordered it from Campmor.
It’s different from snake bite kits of yesteryear. There’s no scalpel, for one thing, due to the risk of nerve damage. It also addresses the increasing incidence of Aids, and the fact that snakes often bite areas that can’t be reached for treatment by the victim using the old methods. The old directive was to cut an ’X’ across both punctures of the bite wound and orally suck out the blood and venom. If a snake bites the outside, rear quarter of the calf, you’d have to be an exceptional contortionist to suck the venom out by mouth when you’re alone.

To address these problems, the Sawyer Complete Bite and Sting First Aid Kit uses a pump able to draw a 750 millibar suction to withdraw the poison. It includes the pump, four cups of graduated size to best cover the wounded area, a razor to remove any hair in the area that may weaken a vacuum, alcohol pads and bandages, and a guidance and instructional manual. One of the purposes of a blog is to speak on the effectiveness of different tools of the trade for the benefit of others. Sorry, but you’re on your own here. For my part, I plan to do my best to avoid gaining practical experience with this.
My wife has one up on me here, not that I’m jealous. She had been terrified of snakes until she was bitten on the leg in the backyard by a water moccasin. Surprisingly, she felt less intimidated by them after the experience, and went on to kill pygmy rattlers and coral snakes she found in the yard. She doesn’t belittle the damage, however. She had to have a cubic inch of flesh surgically removed from her leg where the tissue had been killed, and to remove a fang that had broken off in her leg, and endured repeated treatments for inserting and removing drainage tubes. It took her a whole year to overcome the damage that was done. So, I’ll carry the kit and study the manual just because I should, but will be happy to watch it rot unused in my pack, thank you very much.

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