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First Aid for Snake Bites on the Trail
Snakes and Mountain Bikers in Taiwan

Any snake bite in Taiwan should be treated very seriously. Though there are more nonpoisonous types of snakes than poisonous, some of the poisonous ones can, in severe cases, be deadly. The list below is intended as a reference to get you thinking about what to do should you or one of your group be bit by a snake while on the trail in Taiwan.

The most important things to remember is that snake bites can be very serious, and bite victims should get medical help as quickly as possible.

  • ensure that the snake has left the area
  • assume that all snake bites are poisonous and record a full description of the snake's appearance (colour, patterns, etc.), size and location
  • record the exact time of the bite, as this will help indicate how much venom was injected
  • as virtually all of Taiwan's poisonous snake bites can cause severe swelling, immediately remove all jewelry or clothing in the area of the bite
  • wrap the limb tightly with rope, elastics or an inner-tube; wrap close to the wound, between the wound and the heart; wrap about as tight as you would an ankle wrap, but not so tight as to restrict blood flow; the purpose of the wrap is to slow the spread of venom through the body
  • don't remove the wrap until antivenom (antivenin) has been given
  • immobilize the bitten area and keep it lower than the heart; ex. if hand was bitten DO NOT place hand above head
  • remain calm, and do everything possible to calm the bite victim; anxiety or panic will only spread the venom through the body more quickly
  • if possible, carry the victim, or have them lay flat; if the trail is accessible by car or ambulance, call ahead for support
  • if possible, wash or rinse out wound with soap and water while waiting for medical help to arrive
  • not that most riders carry alcohol on the trail, but don't let the bite victim drink alcohol as it will thin the blood, potentially causing more bleeding and hasten the spread of venom
  • get to a hospital or large medical clinic as quickly as possible

The most important DO NOT's of snake bites:

  • DO NOT attempt to suck the venom out of the wound
  • DO NOT put the wound above the heart
  • DO NOT drink alcohol
  • DO NOT apply ice to the wound
  • DO NOT try to cut the wound to relieve swelling
  • DO NOT wrap the wound too tightly

Information about diagnoses and treatments of poisonous snakebites is available from the Center of Poisonous Snakebite Emergency, Taichung Veterans General Hospital at (04) 359-9783, or the Information Center of Poisonous Snakebites, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, at (02) 2871-7121.

Snakes and Mountain Bikers | Common Poisonous Snakes in Taiwan |
Avoiding Danger | Additional Links