Health Watch - Summertime: Snakes

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about surviving the summer. Summer is a prime time for outdoor activities, but humans aren’t the only ones who are out and active in summer heat. This is the time of year when most snake bites occur.

Most snakes will generally try to avoid people and strike only when they’re threatened or surprised. You can avoid running into snakes by watching where you step or sit. When moving through high grass or brush, poke at the ground ahead of you with a long stick. Wear sturdy boots and long pants when hiking. Dr. Kurt Kleinschmidt, an emergency physician at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says if you’re bitten by a snake, you should seek medical help immediately. Forget about what you may have seen in movies and don’t make cuts over the bite or apply a tourniquet. Instead, remove restrictive clothing or jewelry around the area before it starts to swell and keep the bite elevated above the heart.

Visit to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in emergency care.


June 2009

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