By Fredrika Syren:
My family and I love nature and outdoors, so we spend as much time hiking, biking and nature walking as possible. However, we live in San Diego so we do run the risk of snakes, especially rattlesnakes. If, like us, you are outdoorsy, chances are you will encounter snakes at some point. I know snakebites are very rare; however, it’s good to be prepared, especially if you’re out with kids. Because we had a close encounter with one last year, we now are more cautious and prepared to protect our children.
There is nothing like hiking and exploring with little ones; but, along with sunblock, proper shoes and plenty of water, other precautions are necessary. We also educate our children in wildlife safety because it’s super important to teach kids about safety while out on the trail. The good news is that only 8,000 people in the U.S. are bitten by snakes each year. The other good news is that only 10% of snakes in the U.S. are poisonous.
In the U.S., the venomous snakes are
- Water moccasin
- Coral snake
To keep your child safe and to avoid snakebites, teach your child to always leave snakes alone — no screaming, throwing anything at it, or poking it with a stick. Keep the children away from tall grass areas, and teach them to stay on the trail when hiking. Since snakes tend to hide underneath or inside things, teach children never to reach inside holes, or to pick up things from the ground.
When we hike, we always make sure that one of us is walking ahead of the kids; and if both of us are with them, one of us walks behind. My kids, just like most children, love climbing on rocks. That’s where we had an encounter: a rattlesnake was under one of the rocks. Luckily, I heard the rattling and got the kids away from it. Now I have taught my kids the sound of a rattlesnake, so they know to move away from it if they hear it.
Check out my YouTube video with tips for safe hiking with children:
It’s important to remember that all snakes can bite and may cause an infection. If bitten, it’s important to go to the ER as soon as possible, no matter what snakebite it is.
If a child is bitten by a snake, make sure to do this:
- Move child away from snake.
- Keep child calm.
- Call 911.
- Keep snake bite lower than the heart.
Here is more information about snakebites and how to avoid them: