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Tips for staying safe and how to deal with a snakebite should one occur

OKLAHOMA CITY – A local hospital is giving tips on how to stay safe from snake bites this summer and how to deal with a bite should one occur.

With summer approaching, more and more Oklahomans are spending time outdoors. But, don’t forget, warmer weather means it’s snake season, too.

Integris Health has provided a quick guide to help keep your family safe this summer.

How to identify a venomous snake:

There are several things to look for on a snake that can help you identify if it is venomous.

According to Integris, first, you need to look at the snake’s head shape.

Typically, venomous snakes have heads that are diamond or triangular in shape. Venomous snakes also have pits on each side of the head between the nostril and the eyes. These characteristics are normal trademarks of vipers, the most common species of venomous snakes.

Experts say the snake’s eye shape can also help you identify if it is venomous.

If the eyes have vertical pupils (like cat eyes) it’s a strong indicator that snake is poisonous.

However, you might not have to worry too much about eye shape.  It turns out, according to Integris, that out of 46 species in Oklahoma, only seven are venomous.

Types of venomous snakes include:

  • cottonmouths/water moccasin
  • copperhead
  • western diamondback
  • the timber
  • the prairie
  • western massasauga
  • western pigmy

There are several things you can do to lower your chances of encountering a snake.

When spending time outdoors in areas where snakes are prevalent, make sure you wear tall boots and long pants, Integris advises.

Also, be aware of your foot placement, especially in high grass, wooded areas and rocky terrain.

To reduce the chance of running into a snake around your home, remove tall grass, brush piles and piled materials.

How to deal with a snakebite:

According to Dr. William Banner with Integris, when dealing with a snakebite, try your best to leave the bite alone.

“Be sure to never puncture, tourniquet or ice your wound,” Banner says. “The best thing you can do is move to a safe place, monitor your heart rate and breathing, note the time of the bite so it can be reported, and get to the emergency room as soon as possible.”

Once you’re at the hospital, treatment may include the use of antivenin, lab work, pain sedation medications and supportive care, Integris officials said.

Here are a few tips from an Integris doctor

  1. The black and yellow rhyme, “Red touch black, safe for Jack. Red touch yellow, kills a fellow,” does not apply in Oklahoma. If you see a bright red and yellow snake, it’s best to get out of the way as quickly as possible, rather than looking at each stripe.
  2. It is a myth that snakes are more dangerous in springtime because they have stronger venom.
  3. Copperhead bites are the most common snakebites in Oklahoma.
  4. If you text “poison” to 797979 you will get a contact number sent to your phone for the poison control center, or call 1-800-222-1222.

Click here for more information on snake in Oklahoma.