• U.S.

Tourniquets Are Hisstory

2 minute read
Sora Song

Here’s a tip: Don’t get drunk and play with snakes. It seems obvious, but according to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, a lot of snake attacks happen just that way: 98% of the more than 6,000 yearly snakebites in the U.S. occur on the extremities, most often on arms and hands when people try to handle or kill a snake; in many such cases intoxication is a factor.

If you do get bitten, there are new guidelines for what to do. Don’t cut the wound open and suck the venom out. You could contaminate the injury or damage blood vessels and nerves. Doctors also advise against applying a tourniquet or using ice on the wound. Instead, have someone hustle you to the nearest hospital. Keep the bitten part of the body immobilized and below heart level, and remove all rings, watches and tight clothing. If you have the wherewithal, take note of the time of the bite and what the snake looked like.

Tricky as it is, try to be calm. (It helps to remember that only five or six of the 2,000 or so venomous bites a year are fatal.) On the other hand, symptoms can take a while to surface, so don’t skip the hospital.

–By Sora Song

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