Posted: Sep 2, 2010 5:18 PM by Danielle Lerner
Updated: Sep 2, 2010 8:57 PM
Locals and visitors will not be the only ones enjoying the great outdoors this Labor Day weekend.
The California Department of Fish and Game says most rattlesnake bites occur between the months of April and October, when snakes and humans are most active outside.
In fact, on Wednesday a man was bitten by a rattlesnake at Montana de Oro.
It is an encounter most of us hope we never have, and while their bites are rare along the Central Coast the rattlesnakes are out there.
"The times I've seen rattlesnakes they've seen me first and they're usually leaving the scene," said Paul Reinhardt, a mountain biker.
The Department of Fish and Game says wearing hiking boots, sticking to well-marked trails and avoiding heavy brush can help you avoid snakes.
However if you do happen to spot one, walk away.
"Don't mess with it, don't poke it with a stick, don't try to move it off the trail," said Rocky Thompson, a senior wildlife biologist with the Department of Fish and Game. "It will go its own way when it's ready you just give it lots of time and space to do that."
If you do get bitten every second counts.
Seek medical attention immediately, wash and immobilize the affected area, and stay calm to slow the venom's circulation.
"The old lore about cutting open the wound and sucking out the poison, we don't suggest people try that, most people just do more damage than help," said Thompson.
Experts say there are steps you can take before even leaving the house. For instance adding a small portable snake bite kit to your first aid bag, could make a big difference during an emergency.
"They have little suction cups, you can use those immediately," said Thompson.
Some important things to consider while exploring the great outdoors.
"In this part of the country anywhere can be rattlesnake country," said Thompson.
In California rattlesnakes account for more than 800 bites every year, resulting in one to two deaths.
About 25 percent of those bites are "dry," meaning no venom was injected, but they still require immediate medical attention.
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