They may look like bustling cities, but Diamond Bar, Walnut and many of its surrounding cities have long been home to hundreds of rattlesnakes.
And with spring underway, the reptiles are out and about in their habitat early this year. According to Diamond Bar City officials, some residents have reported spotting snake activity in the trails and parks.
Last year, volunteers with the local Walnut youth soccer league were forced to kill a rattlesnake when it came within a few feet of dozens of children.
Officials are warning residents to be vigilant. This may be our home, but it is also their home, experts say.
Loma Linda University Medical Center’s Dr. Sean Bush, an envenomation specialist, has treated victims from around Southern California. He offers some tips on how to avoid an emergency and what to do if you are bitten.
First and foremost, leave snakes alone.
“Don't handle or try to kill a rattlesnake,” Bush wrote in an article published by the hospital. “That's how many people get bitten. A snake can strike faster and farther than you might think -- about half its body length. Fangs can still inject venom even after a snake is believed to be dead. Snakes that were presumed to be dead have killed people. The majority of snakebites are ‘intentionally interactive’ meaning that the bite occurred when the snake was being handled, molested, or killed.”
Don't reach or step into places outdoors that you can't see.
Wear boots and long pants when hiking.
“If a rattlesnake is found near your home, it's best to contact professionals such as animal control to remove it,” Bush said. “If you must move a rattlesnake from your home yourself, scoop the snake with a long-handled shovel into a large trash can, cover it, and relocate the snake away from your property.”
If you see a snake in the wild, maintain a distance of at least 6 feet.
If you are bitten:
- Don’t panic and don’t exert yourself more than necessary.
- Dial 9-1-1 immediately. Get to an emergency room as quickly as you can.
- Remove jewelry and tight-fitting clothes in anticipation of severe swelling.
- DO NOT cut into the bite area or try to suck out the venom with your mouth or a suction device. This could lead to complications and infections, Bush said.
- A wrap and splint -- instead of a tourniquet -- may delay the time to death in the rare event of a fatal bite, but could risk further injury to an arm or leg.
- DO NOT take aspirin or ibuprofen. Many snake venoms can thin the blood and these medicines may compound this effect.
- DO NOT apply electric shock, drinki alcohol or place ice directly on the wound, as those treatments may be more harmful than helpful.
Although snakes are widely feared, fewer than half a dozen deaths occur per year in the United States after snakebite. Lightning kills more people in the United States than snakes do, Bush said.
Source: Loma Linda University Medical Center, Dr. Sean Bush, Venom ER, "When Snakes Strike."