I got bit by a rattlesnake. What do I do?!?!
Perhaps you wandered off the beaten path into the long grass where rattlers like to hide. Maybe you unwisely stuck your hand into a rock crevice and got an unexpected surprise. Could be you sat on a log already occupied by a sunbathing buzzworm that didn’t bother to alert you to its presence.
Although they can strike one-third or more of their body length from any position, whether coiled or stretched out, rattlesnakes aren’t out to get you; most people stumble upon them and are bitten in self-defense.
If this is your misfortune, do not panic. Remain calm. Get yourself to the nearest hospital. Don’t wait for symptoms to appear. Preferably have someone else take you there, because the bite could affect your ability to drive.
It’s that simple. All that stuff you might have heard or seen in movies about sucking the venom out of the wound, slicing it open to drain it, cinching a tourniquet or icing it so the venom won’t spread — they won’t help and may make things worse. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly advises against doing any of the above. It also advises against drinking caffeine, alcohol or soaking the wound in water.
If you’re out in the wild and can’t get to the hospital immediately the CDC advises keeping the bite below the level of the heart. You can also wash the wound with soap and water and cover it with a clean, dry dressing. It is a good idea to remove any clothing or jewelry that might become restrictive if swelling occurs. Seek help. Walk calmly, don’t run, toward civilization where you can call 911 or drive to the nearest hospital.