May 20, 2024

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As the weather warms up and we head outdoors to enjoy Iowa's beautiful landscapes, it's essential to be aware of the potential for encounters with venomous snakes. While most snakes like the garter and bullsnake are harmless, Iowa is home to four species of venomous snakes: the prairie rattlesnake, timber rattlesnake, copperhead and massasauga.

The prairie rattlesnake inhabits the Loess Hills region in Northwest Iowa, while the other three species are found in eastern parts of the state. Fortunately, most snake bites reported to the Iowa Poison Control Center do not involve these venomous species. However, it's crucial to know what to do if you or someone else is bitten by a snake, especially a venomous one.

What to Do in Case of a Snake Bite

If you're bitten by a snake, remain calm and get the victim to a safe location at least 20 feet away from the snake. Remove any constricting clothing or jewelry and wash the bite area with soap and water. You can apply ice sparingly to help with pain, but be careful not to cause frostbite. Immobilize the affected limb in a neutral position near heart level or higher for comfort. Do not apply a tourniquet, make any cuts over the bite or attempt to suck out the venom.

The Iowa Poison Control Center is a resource available to you 24/7 - call them at 1-800-222-1222 at any point for guidance. They can help with recommendations for first aid and both pre-hospital and in-hospital management. While calling the Poison Control Center should not delay transport to a medical facility, their expertise can be invaluable at any stage of the process.

Get to a medical facility as quickly and safely as possible. Do not attempt to capture the snake or try any other home remedies. Once you're at the hospital, medical staff will assess your condition, stabilize your vital signs and provide basic wound care and tetanus prophylaxis if necessary. They may mark the leading edge of any swelling every 15 minutes to monitor its progression.

Why You Should Call the Iowa Poison Control Center

Whether you're dealing with a snake bite or any other type of poisoning, the Iowa Poison Control Center is a valuable resource. Their team of specially trained nurses and pharmacists is available 24/7 to provide expert advice and guidance. Don't hesitate to call them at 1-800-222-1222 at any point - whether you're seeking initial guidance, updates while en route to the hospital, or advice once you're at the hospital. They're happy to help at any stage following a snake bite.

By being aware of your surroundings when spending time outdoors, knowing what to do in case of a snake bite, and having the Iowa Poison Control Center's number handy, you can enjoy Iowa's great outdoors while minimizing the risk of a snake bite turning into a serious medical emergency.

For More Information:

Download Poison Help's Contact Information 

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