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Watch Where You Walk for Rattlesnake Safety

Santa Clara County, CA.  Santa Clara County Emergency Medical Services, County Parks, and Santa Clara County Fire Departments remind you to "Watch Where You Walk" for rattlesnake safety this season.
With summertime quickly approaching, many of us will be spending more time outdoors, as we take advantage of the many activities Santa Clara County has to offer. But, while we are enjoying our time outside, the warm weather will also encourage rattlesnakes to come out. Santa Clara County Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Santa Clara County Parks, and the Santa Clara County Fire Chiefs Association remind you to watch where you walk to avoid these snakes.
“Every year, fire departments in Santa Clara County respond to snake bite calls,” said Ken Kehmna, Fire Chief of the Santa Clara County Fire Department. “Knowing a few simple tips to avoid being bitten is the best prevention.”
Keeping an eye out for rattlesnakes should be part of everyone's outdoor routine when taking to the hills and open spaces in Santa Clara County.  About 7,000 people are bitten by venomous snakes in the U.S. annually, but only 0.2% (1 out of 500) venomous snake bites result in serious injury.  Approximately 15 people are bitten each year in Santa Clara County; most are treated and released from the hospital.   
The most likely places for spotting a rattlesnake are in parks, on trails, and in the more rural areas of the County; however, rattlesnakes also live near highly populated areas, such as biking and running trails that pass through the cities.  “With the close proximity to open space and wilderness areas in Santa Clara County, the potential for snake bites increases,” said EMS Chief Michael Petrie with the Santa Clara County Emergency Medical Services System. “Keeping calm, providing simple first aid, and calling 911 will help the paramedics and firefighters treat the bite once they arrive on the scene.”
Following a few simple tips can help you enjoy the warm weather and outdoor activities while lessening your chances of snakebite.
Tips for Safety
• If you see a snake, stop and keep your distance (including any children or pets that you may have with you).  Give the snake plenty of room to get away.
• Wear heavy boots that are four inches above the ankle, and long pants when hiking.
• When it’s hot, snakes seek cool areas.  Always watch where you step and be sure to look for snakes in areas of high brush, under logs and when stepping over logs or fallen trees. 
• When it’s cool, snakes seek warmer areas.  Be observant for snakes sunning on rocks or trails, especially in the cooler times of day. 
• NEVER try to touch a snake or scare it away; give the snake its space and back away to a safe place.
• Tell a ranger or park staff if you see a snake, and NEVER try to catch it.
• Always keep your dogs on a leash and walk where you can clearly see the trail ahead, carefully observing for snakes as you walk.
In the rare case in which you or a pet is bitten by a snake, remember these steps:
• Do not panic, remain calm, and slowly move away from the snake.
• Call 9-1-1 or send someone for help
• DO NOT apply cold pack, tourniquet, cut the bite, or attempt to suck-out venom
• Avoid movement of the area that was bitten.
• Keep the bite at or below heart level.
• Do not attempt to kill or catch the snake but do try to remember what the snake looked like.
• If you can, take note of the time of the bite.
• Remember, remain calm and wait for help.
Keeping these few simple tips in mind will not only help to reduce the chance of snakebite, but will help you better enjoy your outdoor activities.
Download news release and snake bite safety flyer

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