Fremont rattlesnake bite incident highlights snake danger

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (KGO) -- Two days after a San Jose man was bitten by a rattlesnake on top of Mission Peak near Fremont, East Bay Regional Parks has put out a warning to hikers and visitors to watch out for the dangerous creatures.

The unusually wet winter made for a great breeding ground for rats, the snakes' favorite food.

Last weekend, a dog was bitten at Del Valle in Livermore, one of six sightings in the East Bay Regional Parks in the past week.

RELATED: Rattlesnake bite sends San Jose hiker to hospital in serious condition

The district is warning visitors to be on the lookout, especially underfoot. "I saw just about a 4-foot-long rattlesnake in Briones Park and my friend was walking in front of me and I said stop," bird watcher Marcia Brown-Machen said.

"If you're not careful, you can get easily bit by them," said McFadden Snake Removal's Drew McFadden. He's the guy who heads toward a rattlesnake when everyone else turns away.

McFadden expects his snake removal business to be especially busy in the coming months. "Most cases, we'll catch and release it," he said. "We'll just let it go back to its natural habitat so it can hopefully start a new life, not in somebody's backyard or on somebody's trail where they going to bite somebody."

John Muir's Dr. Runjhun Misra is the last line of defense when it comes to rattlesnake bites. "The safest thing to do is to call 911 and come into the hospital," she said. "Say you get bit on your wrist for example. Keep that level, your wrist below your heart. You can wash it with soap and water if you have any."

She said, "As soon as you can get in. I can't stress that enough, you have to come in because there is anti-venom we can give you."

Some safety tips to avoid rattlesnake bites:
1. Wear appropriate over-the-ankle hiking boots, thick socks, and loose-fitting long pants. Never go barefoot or wear sandals when walking through wild areas.
2. When hiking, stick to well-used trails if all possible.
3. Avoid tall grass, weeds and heavy underbrush where snakes may hide during the day.
4. Look at your feet to watch where you step and do not put your foot in or near a crevice where you cannot see.
5. Do not step or put your hands where you cannot see, and avoid wandering around in the dark.
6. If a fallen tree or large rock is in your path, step up on to it instead of over it, as there might be a snake on the other side.
7. Be especially careful when climbing rocks or gathering firewood.
8. Check out stumps or logs before sitting down, and shake out sleeping bags before use.
9. Do not turn over rocks or logs. If you must move a rock or log, use gloves and roll it toward you, giving anything beneath it the opportunity to escape in the opposite direction.
10. Never grab "sticks" or "branches" while swimming in lakes and rivers. Rattlesnakes can swim.
11. Avoid approaching any snake you cannot positively identify as a safe species.
12. If you hear the warning rattle, move away from the area and do not make sudden or threatening movements in the direction of the snake.
13. Remember rattlesnakes do not always rattle before they strike!
14. Do not handle a freshly killed snake - it can still inject venom. First Aid DON'T If bitten by a rattlesnake

Do not:
1. Do not make incisions over the bite wound.
2. Do not restrict blood flow by applying a tourniquet.
3. Do not ice the wound.
4. Do not suck the poison out with your mouth. These methods can very well cause additional harm and most amputations or other serious results of a rattlesnake bite are a result of icing or applying a tourniquet.

1. Stay calm.
2. Call dispatch via radio or 911.
3. Wash the bite area gently with soap and water if possible.
4. Remove watches, rings, etc., which may constrict swelling.
5. Immobilize the affected area.
6. Keep the bite below the heart if possible.
7. Transport safely to the nearest medical facility immediately.
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