Southern NSW Local Health District warns of snakes and spiders this summer

Tiger snake.
Tiger snake.

Southern NSW Local Health District is warning the community of the increase in sightings of snakes and spiders in the district as summer progresses.

They have provided some simple but effective first aid tips to keep in mind in case of spider and snake bites. 

Funnel web spiders, and any large black spiders that may be a funnel web spider, must be managed as a medical emergency.

If in doubt, SNWSLHD recommends that you always treat the bite as a funnel web bite.

Keep the person calm and call triple zero (000) for an ambulance. Provide emergency care including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if needed.

Apply a pressure immobilisation bandage, do not move the victim and restrict them from moving around.

 Keep the bitten limb down and bandage the limb from the area of the bite to the hand or foot, then back up to the body.

Immobilise the limb by splinting if possible, remind the victim to keep calm and wait for the ambulance.

For all other spider bites, including red-backed spider bites, apply a cold compress or ice pack directly over the bite site to help relieve the pain.

Seek medical assistance if symptoms including sweating, muscular weakness, loss of coordination, nausea, or signs of infection develop.

In event of snake bite, swift administration of first aid is crucial and medically proven to be lifesaving.

In most cases the vast majority of venomous snake bites occur on the victim's arm or leg.

Never interfere with the bite in any way by cutting or attempting to suck out the venom. Don’t wash or clean the venom from the skin, as venom is not absorbed from the outside.

Instead, place a firm bandage to the limb commencing at the bite site, then going down to the fingers or toes and then up to the limb to the hip or shoulder.

Several bandages may be required to do this, otherwise use whatever material is available such as clothing. If possible, mark the location of the bite on the outside of the bandage.

Keep the limb still. If the bite is to the leg then splint the legs together, if the bite is to the arm, splint the arm to the trunk of the body.

Under no circumstances should the bandage be removed until the patient has reached hospital.

Once first aid has been applied, call triple zero (000). Bring transport to the patient, never allow the patient to attempt to walk or run.

All local hospitals have a comprehensive list of local species and treatment protocols. Hospital emergency departments have antivenom which enables the emergency treatment of bites from black, brown and tiger snakes.