South Africa has a variety of snakes, but not all of them are venomous. We have snakes with Neurotoxic venom like the Mambas, Cobras and Rinkhals family of snakes. We have snakes with Cytotoxic venom like Puff adders, Night adders and Gaboon adders, and we have snakes with Hemotoxic venom like the Boom slang. If bitten and you cannot identify the type of snake, do not worry about it too much because the different types of venom have specific signs and symptoms associated to the type of venom and you will be treated at hospital according to the symptoms that you exhibit.
What do you do when bitten by a snake?
Snake bite! Call for help first, then look at the time of the incident and remember it, try to remain calm and minimize the movement of the bitten area. Remove or loosen any tight clothing and take off any watches and bracelets because the affected area might swell significantly. Apply a pressure bandage that is not too tight directly over the wound. If possible, try to take a photo of the snake with your cellphone, rather than trying to catch or kill the snake, this may only cause more injury. Get to the hospital as soon as possible. When traveling to hospital, lie down as flat as you can and keep the bitten limb next to the body, not raised.
For anti-venom to be most effective it should be given within the first hour of being bitten, but you might also be allergic to the anti-venom, so the anti-venom is not always the solution and you will then be treated according to the signs and symptoms of the venom.
What not to do when bitten by a snake!
Do not clean the wound, only apply a compression bandage and get to the hospital as soon as possible. Do not take any pain medication especially aspirin, because aspirin thins the blood which would take the venom to the rest of your body that much faster. Do not apply a tourniquet as this could lead to eventual amputation of the limb. Do not cut open the snake bite and try to suck out the venom, this only creates more damage to the patient and is not effective at all.