When you’re looking up at the stars this Summer, also remember to look down.
Copperheads are partial to summertime temperatures. With people being outside a lot more, combined with hot weather, the likelihood of encounters is increased. Our No. 1 recommendation: Avoid these snakes in the first place. Most bites happen in the evening when snakes are feeding, so try to avoid walking around barefoot at night. Also be careful around wood piles and brush piles, places copperheads tend to gather. When out doing yard work, wear close-toed shoes and heavy gloves. Also try to watch where you step and put your hands, and look before reaching.
Copperheads are thick-bodied snakes with a distinctive, hourglass pattern. They typically grow two to three feet long. The babies are often more dangerous, because they cannot control their venom.
If avoidance fails, and you are bitten, the best course of action is to get to the ER as quickly as possible and avoid medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen that can make bleeding worse. Forget what you’ve seen in movies—cutting around the wound, trying to suction the venom or applying tourniquets and ice doesn’t work.
Venomous bites can be nasty, resulting in intense pain, swelling, bleeding, bruising, numbness, tingling, low blood pressure, vomiting and confusion, but their venom is relatively mild, so bites are rarely fatal. Copperheads use all kinds of structures for cover, including stone walls, and don’t seem to prefer any particular habitat, enjoying forests, fields and places in between, so it’s best to remain vigilant.