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Updated: July 21, 2013 16:08 IST

First Aid: Fanged foe

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Act quickly if bitten by a snake. Photo: C. Ratheesh Kumar
The Hindu
Act quickly if bitten by a snake. Photo: C. Ratheesh Kumar

Tips to deal with snake bites. The last in the series on handling common medical emergencies.

There are reportedly 2,50,000 venomous snake bites a year in India, of which, it is estimated that at least 50,000 are fatal.


Snake bite leaves a characteristic mark of a single or double fang

Pain and swelling at site or the entire limb

Frothing or drooling

Nausea, vomiting

Abdominal pain

Muscle rigidity (stiffness) and fever

Difficulty in breathing

Rapid pulse

Person may become drowsy, dizzy and may lose consciousness.


Ask the person to sit still and activate emergency services.

Reassure the victim.

Immobilise to stop the spread of venom. Keep the affected part below heart level.

Apply a compression bandage across the entire affected limb starting just above the bite and wrap towards the body.

Wrap the bandage one finger loose to slow the spread of venom but not restrict circulation in the affected area.

Check responsiveness.

If person becomes unresponsive but is breathing, put him/her in recovery position. If person is not breathing, start CPR.

Get to hospital immediately for the anti-venom shot.


Do not apply ice

Do not cut through the wound.

Do not suck blood from the bitten area.

Do not use a tourniquet.

Do not try to catch the snake as this can lead to additional victims.

Extract from Medical Emergency Handbook, VIVO Healthcare, Rs.199.

To buy the book, contact VIVO Healthcare, DLF City Club, DLF City Phase 4, Gurgaon 122009. Ph: +91-124-4365848 +91-8860004734. E-mail: or

This article has been corrected for a typo error.


First aid: Big bitesJuly 13, 2013

First Aid: Safe from the sunMay 18, 2013

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