Summer is a time for outdoor fun, swimming, and hikes in nature, but it's also snakebite season. And there's one snake in California with a venomous bite: the rattlesnake. According to California Poison Control, every year around 800 rattlesnake bites occur, along with one to two deaths on average. Just last month, a two-year-old toddler in the town of Bay Point was bitten on the foot by a rattlesnake, but thankfully she made a full recovery. So how can you and your loved ones make sure to steer clear of rattlesnakes?
One point to remember about rattlesnakes is that they're not just in the wilderness: chances are, they're close by, whether in parks, golf courses, or your own backyard. And when it's hot out, your chances of encountering one rise dramatically. Here are the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's key tips on avoiding rattlesnakes:
- Never go hiking barefoot or in sandals into wild areas. Wear ankle-length boots with loose-fitting pants.
- Stay on well-travelled trails when hiking and out of tall grass and underbrush. Snakes will hide there during the day.
- Don't stick your hands and feet where you can't see, and don't wander in the dark. Step on logs or rocks rather than over them. Check on stumps and logs before sitting on them, and shake out your sleeping bag before getting in.
- Don't just grab "sticks" or "branches" in lakes and rivers. Rattlesnakes swim.
- Snakes like to hide under door ledges and along the edges of buildings, so be careful around these areas.
- Never hike alone. Use the buddy system in case of an emergency, and bring a phone and first aid kit.
- Don't touch a snake that seems dead. Freshly killed snakes can still bite and inject venom.
- Teach children to stay away from snakes and never pick them up.
If you are ever bitten by a rattlesnake, stay calm, and if possible wash the affected area gently. Also, keep the area where you were bitten immobilized and below your heart, and remove any rings or watches. Then calmly get transport to the nearest medical facility.
Remember that rattlesnakes aren't out to bite you, and if they can avoid you, they will. So let's play it safe and stay out of each other's way.