If you’re planning a trip to Yosemite National Park, it’s not just the fire advisory you have to be aware of; you also need to be mindful of rattlesnakes.
The park, located in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, described two rattlesnake bite incidents in a blog post on Friday, and offered tips to hikers about how to keep themselves safe should they encounter the animals.
“This summer season, there has been a noticeable uptick in rattlesnake bites in the greater Yosemite region,” the blog post reads. “These two cases provide a good opportunity to review advice for how to handle an encounter with a rattlesnake.”
A backpacker reported the first incident on Aug. 27, calling in a “snake emergency.” Around 2:30 p.m. the day before, a rattlesnake bit a fellow hiker who was fishing barefoot in the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne. “The subject, in his mid-30s, had stepped onto a rock, causing it to shift under his weight, and suddenly a rattlesnake —apparently underneath the rock — bit him on his left foot,” according to the blog post.
His wife went to go get help on her own after they tried hiking together. Her husband was ultimately transferred to a park ambulance and a paramedic took care of his dehydration, nausea and pain. He later flew to a Modesto hospital and was expected to be discharged over the weekend (and was given two doses of the antivenom CroFab), more than a week after the bite.
As for the second incident, a snake struck a hiker’s left knee on Aug. 29. One of the hiker’s companions said: “We were on the trail, hiking by ankle-high shrubs, when out of the blue — with no rattle, no hiss, no sound whatsoever — a snake struck.”
Another hiker with cell service called 911. They opted to apply a tourniquet but were told to remove it after they spoke with a park ranger-paramedic. “Applying a tourniquet to a limb that has been envenomated blocks blood flow and can lead to tissue damage (for the same reason, do not apply ice to a rattlesnake bite),” the blog post reads. He was also later transferred to an air ambulance and received treatment for dehydration, nausea and pain, along with four doses of CroFab. As of the time of the blog post’s publication, he was still hospitalized, though was set to leave in a day or two; apparently, “the swelling in his leg has actually become worse and the range of motion for his knee is limited.”
Elsewhere in the park, the southern portion of Yosemite is subject to a fire advisory and Mariposa Grove is closed; it is currently going through a phased reopening due to the coronavirus pandemic.
What to do (and not do) if you encounter, are bitten by a rattlesnake
Here’s what you should do if you encounter a rattlesnake:
- If you see a snake, stay away ; they can only strike from a distance half their size
- Be mindful of where you step or reach with your hands
- If you think you hear one, stand still
- Just because a snake doesn’t have a rattle doesn’t mean they’re not rattlesnakes (babies don’t have them and adult ones can break off)
If you are bitten by a rattlesnake:
- Stay calm and get medical attention
- Don’t use a tourniquet, apply ice or try to suck the venom out
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