*** Safety Alert Bulletin ***
Spider and Snake Safety Awareness
With the days becoming warmer or just down-right hot, one of nature’s most dangerous natural creatures is awakening – those reptilian wonders we call SNAKES as well as the eight legged creatures called SPIDERS. Before you pack-up your tool bag or walk up to those warehouse metal buildings, splicing wires, generators, AFC remotes, Fiber and Cell site locations take a refresher course on snake bite and spider bite survival!
Avoid Snakes and Spiders! Know the environment where you are adventuring and the kinds of snakes and other natural hazards. Avoid dense brush, stacked firewood, rock piles, etc. – Think before you leap! If you are bitten, identify the snake if possible. As a general rule, most poisonous snakes have a triangular shaped head, and somewhat flat. Know the different kinds of poisonous snakes and insects of the area! Same if bitten by a spider, try to identify what type of spider, most common poisonous spider in our area are the Brown Recluse and Black Widow.
Watch where you step…rattlesnakes are very active in the spring any time of the day.
Tips to rattlesnake safety:
1. Don’t play with the snake. As silly as it sounds one of the common causes of rattlesnake bite is someone (usually under the influence of alcohol) plays with the snake.
2. Watch where you walk at night. I can’t think of any bites I have been on where someone has stumbled into one at night, but I am sure it has probably happened. When I go outside at night, I always use a flashlight and actively look for snakes. They will look motionless, like a rag or other non descript item on the ground. All you have to do is watch where you step. I even do this in my back yard in unlighted areas.
3. Watch where you put your hands! One of the common bites I have seen has been a person that is hard of hearing doing gardening. I always rustle around with a stick and look prior to picking tomatoes, or trimming. Another common bite is on the golf course. The guy or gal who can’t shoot straight (like me) and ball ends up off course. They reach down, scare the snake and get bit. Often times without a rattle. No matter what – watch where you put your hands!
DO NOT LIST FOR SNAKE BITES INCLUDES:
1. If bitten by a rattlesnake, DO NOT use ice to cool the bite.
2. If bitten by a rattlesnake, DO NOT cut open the wound and try to suck out the venom.
3. If bitten by a rattlesnake, DO NOT use a tourniquet. This will cut off blood flow and the limb may be lost.
4. Avoid rattlesnakes altogether. If you see one, don’t try to get closer to it or catch it.
5. Keep your hands and feet away from areas where you cannot see, like between rocks or in tall grass where rattlesnakes like to rest.
If you are bitten by a rattlesnake, stay calm and get to a doctor as soon as possible. The National Poison Control Center advises:
1. Stay Calm
2. Wash bite area gently with soap and water
3. Remove watch, rings, etc. that may constrict swelling of the limb or area.
4. Immobilize the affected area
5. Keep the area of the snake bite lower than the heart.
6. Transport immediately to nearest medical facility!
Nonpoisonous snake or lizard bite
If you are certain the snake or lizard was not poisonous, use home treatment measures to reduce symptoms and prevent infection.
· Use direct pressure to stop any bleeding.
· Look at the wound to make sure a snake or lizard tooth is not in the wound. If you can see a tooth, remove it with tweezers, taking care to not push it farther into the wound.
· Clean the bite as soon as possible to reduce the chance of infection, scarring, and tattooing of the skin from dirt left in the wound. Wash the wound for 5 minutes with large amounts of warm water and soap (mild dishwashing soap, such as Ivory, works well).
· Do not use rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, iodine, or mercurochrome, which can harm the tissue and slow wound healing.
· Soak the wound in warm water for 20 minutes, 2 to 4 times a day, for the next 4 to 5 days. The warmth from the water will increase the blood flow to the area, which helps reduce the chance of infection.
· Puncture wounds usually heal well and may not need a bandage. You may want to use a bandage if you think the bite will get dirty or irritated.
o Clean the wound thoroughly before putting the bandage on it.
o Apply a clean bandage when it gets wet or soiled. If a bandage is stuck to a scab, soak it in warm water to soften the scab and make the bandage easier to remove.
o If available, use a nonstick dressing. There are many bandage products available.
o Be sure to read the product label for correct use.
· Use of an antibiotic ointment has not been shown to affect healing. If you choose to use an antibiotic ointment, such as polymyxin B sulfate (for example, Polysporin) or bacitracin, apply the ointment lightly to the wound. The ointment will keep the bandage from sticking to the wound. If a skin rash or itching under the bandage develops, stop using the ointment. The rash may be caused by an allergic reaction to the ointment.
· Determine whether you need a tetanus shot.
· Apply and ice or cold pack may help reduce swelling and bruising. Never apply ice directly to a wound or the skin. This could cause tissue damage.
CONTROL OF SPIDERS IN AND AROUND HOMES
Spiders are common in homes during cold weather and move indoors as temperatures drop outside, although they can be found indoors any time during the year. Their numbers usually peak during late summer. With the cooler temperatures now in the evenings you may start to see more of these creatures in your homes.
Many people routinely find spiders in their garden and many places where spiders like to hide. Favorite hiding spots for many spiders include woodpiles and basements, attics, and even closets in our homes. Fortunately, extremely few of these spiders are dangerous though. In the Unites States, just two species of spiders are poisonous enough to cause harm. They include the black widow spider (Latrodectus mactans) and the brown recluse spider (Loxosceles reclusa).
It is important to remember than even dangerous black widow and brown recluse spiders aren’t wandering around your house trying to attack. They usually like to live in places where they won’t be disturbed. Unless youre crawling through boxes in a closet or attic, or someplace else where he may have disturbed a spider, it is unlikely that any bites on his skin were caused by a “bad spider.” Here are a few simple safety tips to help identify spider bites, symptoms and control spider numbers both outside and inside your homes.
Spider Bite Symptoms
Surprisingly, most spider bites aren’t that painful. It may feel like a pin prick and they are often unnoticed when the spider actually bites you. Common spider bite symptoms can include a single bite mark with:
In fact, most spider bites will resemble a bee sting. Your child may also develop hives and other allergy symptoms if he is allergic to the spider bite.
Symptoms of a black widow spider bite might also include severe muscle pain and cramps, which develop within a few hours of the bite. Other symptoms may include weakness, vomiting, trouble breathing, abdominal pain, and high blood pressure.
Brown recluse spider bites can be painful. In addition to pain, these spider bites may cause burning and itching. Another characteristic finding is that the spider bite may look like a bull’s eye, with a red ring around a white center that turns into an ulcer.
Spider Bite Treatments
For most spider bites, you can follow some simple home treatments, including:
· washing the spider bite with soap and water
· apply an ice cube to the bite for about 20 minutes
· give your child a pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil)
· apply a topical antibiotic ointment to the bite two or three times a day
· apply a topical steroid cream to help control itching and redness a few times a day
· continue home treatments for one or two days, the typical time that it takes a spider bite to go away
Of course, you should seek medical attention if you think you were bitten by a black widow spider or brown recluse spider.
Outdoor Control of Spiders
If it is necessary to reduce the number of spiders in and around your home, start with nonchemical methods including sanitation to prevent spiders from entering from the outside.
- Keep grassy or weedy areas near buildings cut short.
- Trim back shrubs and other plants that directly contact your home.
- Knock webs down with a broom or a hard spray of water.
- Remove and destroy any egg sacs or spiders that are found.
- Caulk or seal obvious cracks or spaces around the foundation, doors, and ground level windows.
- Check to be sure screens fit tightly.
Indoor Control of Spiders
Regular housecleaning is very important in the control of spiders indoors. Large, persistent spider populations indoors indicate the presence of a significant insect population that serves as their food.
- Remove papers, boxes, bags, and other clutter to minimize favorable sites for spiders.
- Remove webbing with a broom or vacuum, and destroy any egg sacs and spiders that are found. Look especially around windows, in corners and other relatively quiet places.
- Eliminate insects that serve as a food supply, especially when large numbers exist. Check particularly in and under webs to see what insects have been captured.
- Shake out any clothing left on the floor or shake your shoes prior to putting them on in the morning to help remove spiders from their hiding spots.
You can supplement your sanitation efforts with an insecticide treatment. Treat especially behind base-boards, in cracks and crevices, and other places where spiders may hide. General treatments on surfaces and fogs are not effective. Most insecticides labeled for ants and cockroaches are also labeled for spiders. These products are commonly found in aerosol ready-to-use cans.
CAUTION: Read all label directions carefully before buying insecticides and again before using them. The label is the final authority on how you may legally use any pesticide!
Information provided by National Poison Control Center and Urgent Care Association of America.
Today’s blog post comes to us courtesy of Ken Oswald Safety and Security Manager for Plateau