Five-year-old Boy Saves His Dog from Rattlesnake Bite
Dos and Don'ts of Snake Safety
Rattlesnakes are California’s only venomous snakes. To distinguish rattlesnakes from harmless native snakes, remember rattlesnakes have a distinct, triangular-shaped head, and usually have rattles at the end of their tail.
Rattlesnakes are not confined to rural areas. They have been found near urban areas, in river or lakeside parks, and at golf courses. Be aware that startled rattlesnakes may not rattle before striking defensively. There are several safety measures that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of startling a rattlesnake.
- Never go barefoot or wear sandals when walking through wild areas. Wear hiking boots.
- When hiking, stick to well-used trails and wear over-the-ankle boots and loose-fitting long pants. Avoid tall grass, weeds and heavy underbrush where snakes may hide during the day.
- Do not step or put your hands where you cannot see, and avoid wandering around in the dark. Step ON logs and rocks, never over them, and be especially careful when climbing rocks or gathering firewood. Check out stumps or logs before sitting down, and shake out sleeping bags before use.
- Never grab “sticks” or “branches” while swimming in lakes and rivers. Rattlesnakes can swim.
- Be careful when stepping over the doorstep as well. Snakes like to crawl along the edge of buildings where they are protected on one side.
- Do not handle a freshly killed snake, it can still inject venom.
- Teach children early to respect snakes and to leave them alone. Children are naturally curious and will pick up snakes.
What to Do in the Event of a Snake Bite
The first thing to do if bitten is to stay calm. Generally, the most serious effect of a rattlesnake bite to an adult is local tissue damage which needs to be treated. Children, because they are smaller, are in more danger if they are bitten.
Get to a doctor or hospital as soon as possible. The California Poison Control Center advises:
- Stay calm
- Wash the bite area gently with soap and water
- Remove items or clothing which may constrict swelling
- Immobilize the affected area
- Transport safely to the nearest medical facility
For more first aid information please visit California Poison Control.
Source: California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Lennon Knox, age 5, from Santa Barbara, starts his days by giving his dog and best friend, Sunshine, a morning kiss. Earlier this month, when he stepped outside to greet Sunshine, his mood turned from joy to shock when he saw a rattlesnake under Sunshine’s bed.
Lennon quickly rushed over and pushed his dog out of the snake’s reach but the red diamond rattlesnake bit his foot and held on tight. His mother Amy came to his rescue but noticed that Lennon’s lower leg was rapidly swelling and he appeared to be in shock.
She called 911 and paramedics transported them to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, where the Trauma team went into immediate action to treat Lennon. He spent several days in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and the Pediatric Unit at Cottage Children’s Medical Center.
"He was so brave in the emergency room and so brave through his entire stay at the hospital,” said Gina Randall, manager of pediatrics at Cottage Children’s Medical Center. “He has made such a fast recovery."
After four days in the hospital Lennon was able to return home to be reunited with Sunshine.
He returned to Cottage a week later, but this time for a celebration. Members of his care team presented him with a Medal of Bravery for his heroic efforts to save his beloved dog. Now fully recovered, Lennon is back to enjoying nonstop fun with his best friend Sunshine.