How to stay safe as rattlesnakes start emerging from their winter dens

A man bitten by a rattlesnake Sunday while hiking in Concord’s Lime Ridge Open Space is a painful reminder that as warmer weather brings snakes out of brumation — a hibernation-like state for reptiles — we are more likely to encounter them.

The man used his cell phone to call for help, and rescue crews were able to get him medical attention and to safety. He now is recovering from what could have been a fatal bite.

Contra Costa County Fire Department officials have issued a reminder to always carry a mobile phone and an emergency kit when exploring the outdoors. Here are some other safety tips for avoiding rattlesnakes — and what to do if you are bitten.

Rattlesnakes are most active just before sundown. You’ll mostly encounter them in wilderness areas and open space, but if you live next to a field or park, you might find them in your yard, looking for food or water.
Snakes like warm days. Even in winter, you can find a snake that has slithered out for some warmth.
You’ll rarely find rattlesnakes out in the open. Except for sunning themselves, they keep out of sight, hiding from predators.
Don’t stick your hands down holes, under ledges, in brush or under rocks, where you cannot see what might be there.
When gardening, inspect the area first before mowing or working in areas where rattlesnakes could be concealed.
If you encounter a rattlesnake, head in the other direction or give it a wide berth as you walk around it. Most times, the snake will move away from you, but if it doesn’t, you should retreat. The snake will not harm you unless it feels threatened. Most bites occur when someone accidentally steps on a rattlesnake or otherwise makes contact.
Rattlesnakes usually don’t strike from a prone position, but they will if …read more

Source:: The Mercury News

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