Last weekend at the local army-navy shop I spotted this handy, inexpensive snake bite kit. Poisonous snakes can be found in just about every U.S. state (except Maine; snakes, unlike many Northerners, have the good sense to avoid bone-crushingly cold winters*), and quick treatment is key. According to a venomous snake fact site:
The low mortality rate [of bites] is based on prompt emergency medical treatment and anti-venom availability in areas with large populations of venomous snakes, ie. Southern California, Texas, Florida.
So, if you live in one of these areas, you’re more likely to run into poisonous snakes and to have access to proper treatment — if you’re prepared and make it to the clinic in time.
For $3.95 from the Camping Survival website, you can get a kit that includes “two large high-suction cups for multiple bites, one small high-suction cup for small surfaces, easy to use lymph constrictor, scalpel, antiseptic swab, [and] complete instructions.” However, customer reviews at Amazon practically plead for others to avoid this kit and instead recommend the admittedly safer-looking Sawyer Exractor [What’s This?], which runs around $16.
If you can’t get medical treatment within 30 minutes of the bite, the American Red Cross recommends bandaging the area (not too tightly) a few inches above the bite to slow the venom. Personally, after seeing the pictures of the guy who got bit on the finger and looks like half his upper body has been infected, I’d rather throw down a few bucks and have a kit on hand.
*As a born and bred Yank, I’m allowed to say this.