cottonmouth snake in swamp

Scale up your snake safety

If you aren’t familiar with the story of GOES yet, it all started with a snakebite. It’s the very reason why we created the app – to equip you with resources before your trip to prepare and prevent unwanted scenarios, while also providing access to the most accurate information about what to do if the unexpected happens.

Whether you love or hate ‘em, chances are you’re eventually going to come across a snake during your time outdoors. But there’s a lot you can do and learn about snakes to avoid becoming the next founding story for another app 😉

🐍 Where the Wild Venomous Things Are

Knowing which snakes are actively present in your area can help you better assess risk and maybe ease your mind a bit.

There are four types of venomous snakes in the US. See where each type of snake lives on the map below.

Map of venomous snakes in the US (rattlesnakes, coral snakes, copperheads, and cottonmouths)


Want a more detailed view? Visit
VenomMaps, a website database that shows where specific snake species live, all around the world.

In addition to the region being a clue as to which snake you might have stumbled on, you can identify venomous snakes by some trademark physical characteristics, such as the shape of their heads and patterns on their skin. Download GOES to learn more about each snake.

🌦️ Sun, showers, and snakebites?

If you keep up with our blog, you may have picked up on a theme by now: our outside adventures and health are seriously impacted by the climate. Extreme weather events even affect snakebite safety! Dr. Grant Lipman of GOES Health conducted a study which showed how precipitation and drought in California significantly affected the number of reported snakebites. For every 10% increase in precipitation, there was a 4% increase in snakebites! In the face of this evolving landscape, trust that GOES will have everything you need to stay safer.

Remember these guidelines:

     📏 Maintain distance: At least 5 feet or twice the snake’s length. Snakes can quickly strike a distance longer than their body.

     🩸 Some bites are dry: Not all snakebites are venomous, even from venomous snakes. 25% of their bites are dry, meaning they don’t contain any venom.

     🚗 Evacuate immediately: Unfortunately, a venomous snakebite should (literally) mark the end of your adventure. You should evacuate as soon as possible.

     🕖 Look out for symptoms: You might observe symptoms immediately after a venomous bite, but in some cases they take as many as 8-12 or more hours to appear.

 

❌ Avoid, protect, prevent

If you have ophidiophobia (the fear of snakes), it may be hard to remember that snakes avoid human contact. However, if they feel threatened or harmed, that’s when they’ll react and bite.

As outdoor adventurers, we know to be respectful of critters’ habitats wherever we are. Snakes can be scary, but like most animals, they think we are the threat. So the best way to stay snake safe is to give them space.

The best snakebite prevention is avoidance. Keep in mind while you’re out:

  • Be aware of your surroundings (avoid wearing headphones)
  • Know which snakes may be in the area (considering the season too)
  • Be prepared for if you do see one
  • Snakes want to be left alone. Remember: you are in their home, and they think you’re the threat.

🧠 Myths & Misconceptions

In the field of wilderness medicine, we’ve heard it all when it comes to snakebites. However, a lot of these misconceptions around what to do if you’ve been bitten by a venomous snake are baseless and might accidentally do more harm than good.

The real truth: If you ever get a venomous snakebite, you will need to evacuate to a medical facility to get follow-up care and antivenom. Try to stay calm.

If you want to study up on your venomous snakes, get more tips on avoiding potential snake run-ins, or have offline support with what to do in a snakebite situation – it’s all in the GOES app.

Myth #1: “You can suck out the venom.”
Truth: Most snake envenomations are thought to occur in the deeper layer of the skin, at the furthest portion of where the fangs reach. Suction may actually collapse this area, while simultaneously decreasing the amount of venom that would have spontaneously oozed out of the wound. Suction devices have also been shown to fail at removing venom, they just suck.

Myth #2: “Tying a tourniquet will keep the venom contained.”
Truth: While it seems like a tourniquet will stop the blood and venom from pumping, the tissue destruction from snake venom makes the injured area more susceptible to further injury from pressure, like from a tourniquet. 

Myth #3: “Ice it” 
Truth: Ice therapy does not impact the tissue effects of snake envenomation. And if you were wondering, neither does applying an electric current.

The real truth: If you ever get a venomous snakebite, you will need to evacuate to a medical facility to get follow-up care and antivenom. Try to stay calm.

If you want to study up on your venomous snakes, get more tips on avoiding potential snake run-ins, or have offline support with what to do in a snakebite situation – it’s all in the GOES app.

Share this post:

Latest articles

Tick Talk

Learn more about ticks and what makes them tick. Prevent tick-borne illness and know what to do in case of a tick bite, with GOES.

Stay in the loop with the latest articles.