Post #KeralaFloods Rehabilitation: Managing Snake Bites

Dr Roshan Radhakrishnan
The worst of the Kerala floods is over, leaving the state devastated in a manner not seen in nearly a century. The loss across most districts of God's Own Country runs into thousands of crores financially and perhaps a lot more, emotionally and psychologically.

But now is not the time to rest. Because, as the floods finally retreat, it is now time to rebuild. It is time to undo the damage.

Understanding that this is a vast topic, I am posting a series of articles here specific to various aspects of flood relief. I have been aided in this by my dear friend and classmate of old, Dr Reshma, a specialist in Community Medicine along with guidelines taken from the Snake Bite Initiative of India.

The topic in this post is:

Managing Snake Bites

The incidence of snakes bites tend to be a lot higher following floods. Washed into the mainlands by the waters, snakes would seek shelter within homes which then become danger zones following the floods when people return back inside. Hence, strict vigilance should be taken while re-entering a house or location that was affected by the floods.

Key points to remember when entering a house or area after the floods:

1. Always have a source of light before entering a dark area.
2. Wear knee or thigh high boots to avoid getting bitten by snakes floating in the water.
3. If you spot a snake, do not make any sudden movements.
4. If you cannot identify whether a snake is poisonous, move away from the area and call for help.
5. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO GO NEAR A SNAKE OR TRY TO KILL IT. Snakes may attack if they feel threatened. 

What do we do in case of a snake bite?

Here are the primary steps to be taken.

1. Stay calm.

2. Seek medical help immediately. 

3. Immobilize the bitten limb. Remove any constricting item on the limb - watch, jewellery.

5. Clean the wound with soap and water. Do not flush with water.

6. Rest with the bitten area below the level of the heart.

7. DO NOT cut the wound, apply heat or ice.

8. DO NOT apply a tourniquet.

Steps to take following a snake bite

Can you identify whether the snake was poisonous or not? Here are some quick pointers.


Look for:
1. Site of the bite will have 2 specific fang marks (from the canines that inject venom.)
2. Watch for spreading pain, swelling and numbness in the bitten area.
3. Poisonous snakes in general have a triangular head, round pupil and a round snout. 
4. Non-poisonous snakes would have a broad head, skinny neck, elliptical pupil and a pointed snout.

Specific to the Kerala floods, these are the Snake EMERGENCY RESPONSE TEAMS available and their respective districts. 

Specific to the Kerala floods, these are the Snake EMERGENCY RESPONSE TEAMS available and their respective districts.
Source: Snake Bite Initiative Kerala

Use these numbers in case you come across a snake in your location or someone has been bitten by a snake. 

If you wish to Whatsapp images of snakes found to aid in identifying them, specific to the KERALA FLOODS, please do so at these numbers -  8383947126 / 7000891715 / 9447133366 / 9319165075 (Source: - Snake Bite Initiative, Kerala)

Finally, know which centers around you have the anti-snake venom you need. Government Medical Colleges and District Hospitals are the best options.

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Let me know what you think.

  1. This is a great post. I mean, I've not really ventured out into nature that much, but some things everyone should know. Some basic life skills should be imparted. Thanks for sharing this. :)
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