Safety Note: Rattlesnakes by Owen Martin, AFMS Safety Chair Though seemingly rare, poisonous snakes annually bite 6.500 to 7,000Americans. Always take the following precautions:
Always assume snakes areactive. Do not relax your vigilon sunny winter days.
Do not make “solo” tripsacross snake country which is remote from habitations and frequently used roads.
When traversing brush or grassyterrain, use a “decoy” such as a level rod or a lath, alongside your legs. Walk heavily to create vibrations that can be felt bysnakes (a snake does not hear).
Walk away from the shaded sideof clumps and bushes when the weather is hot and sunny.
Step on logs and large rocks, instead of stepping over them and into unseen areas. The safest policy is to walk around such obstacles.
Do not jump down from overhangs onto areas wheresnakes might be hidden from view.
Avoid steep climbs if possible where a snake, uphill from you, could strike the upper portions of your body. Bites on the torso, theneck, and the head are much moredamaging and more difficult to treat then those on the limbs.
Never climb vertical or near vertical faces where handholds on unseen areas above your head arerequired.
Do not attempt, under anycircumstances, to capture snakes!!
Do not try to kill a snake unless itis a positive threat to safety.
Avoid likely snake areas such as small rodent trails, pack rats’ nests or gopher tortoise dens.
When necessary to move low-lying logs, large rocks and boards, use a pry bar, not your hands.
Double your precautions at night, especially in warm weather.
Keep vehicles near your work area for rapid transport if snakebite should occur.
If at all possible, maintain radio contact with isolated employees.
Know the location of the nearest medical facility where anti-venom is available and the quickest route there.
Do not collect rattles. A fine and highly abrasive dust often accumulates inside therattles and can cause lasting damage to the eyes.
Wear high leather boots or snake-leggings in high-hazard areas.
Remember that rattlesnakes do not always signal their presence by rattling.
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