Venomous snakes are now more active across Australia due to unusually high temperatures following one of the warmest winters on record.
Warming climate conditions brought on by an El Niño event in Australia increase the risk of snake bites in susceptible workplaces across the nation.
El Niño is a complex climate phenomenon characterised by the warming of ocean surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, bringing about major atmospheric changes.
In Australia, it typically ushers in hotter and drier conditions. This meteorological shift, combined with factors like prolonged droughts and reduced rainfall, creates a breeding ground for snakes.
Snake activity soars
Snakes are highly sensitive to changes in temperature.
During El Niño events, the soaring temperatures cause them to become more active, as they use warmth to regulate their bodily functions.
As a result, they venture out of their hideouts in search of prey, water, and cooler spots when it gets too hot, inevitably bringing them into closer contact with people.
As Australia’s population continues to grow, urban sprawl encroaches upon previously undisturbed snake habitats.
This encroachment results in increased interactions between humans and snakes, often leading to unexpected incidents on new developments and building sites.
Coupled with the unpredictability of snake behaviour during El Niño, the risks become even more pronounced.
Snakes in the workplace
Australians who work outdoors are most at risk of snake bite. Farmers, horticulturalists, fruit pickers, gardeners, surveyors, construction workers, and infrastructure installation and maintenance crews need to be vigilant about carrying a Snake Bite First Aid Kit and a charged mobile phone at all times.
Snakes can hide in workplace machinery, work vehicles, under rubbish and building materials, and in rockeries, wood piles and vegetation. At the height of snake season, snakes have been discovered in tool boxes, stored sports equipment, and in kitchens and offices on construction sites.
Workers around Australia can minimise the risk of snake bite in the workplace by:
- Reducing rubbish and scrap materials where snakes can shelter.
- Removing food scraps that attract rodents or frogs, which are preyed upon by snakes.
- Wearing protective gloves, gaiters and boots when working amongst thick vegetation and when moving stored materials and rubbish
- Being reminded of high-risk snake season periods in warm weather.
- Remaining alert and on the lookout for snakes in unexpected places.
Australia is home to some of the deadliest snakes in the world, including varieties of Taipan, Brown and Tiger snakes
When snake bites occur, consequences can be life-threatening. Venomous snakebites require immediate medical attention and access to anti-venom, both of which can be limited in remote areas.
Increased snake activity during El Niño events heightens the chances of such encounters, emphasising the critical need for preparedness.
Snake bite first aid
Applying the correct first aid for an Australian snake bite can save a life.
As with any emergency, always ensure there’s no danger to yourself or others before proceeding. Follow these three critical steps:
1. Call Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance.
2. Lie the person down, keep them calm and still.
3. Use the pressure immobilisation technique by applying a firmly wrapped compression bandage firstly over the bite site and then as far up and down the limb as possible to prevent movement and delay the spread of venom.
Do not clean the bite site as the remaining venom can help medical professionals identify the snake.
Never try to remove the venom by sucking it out, cutting the wound, or using a tourniquet.
Don’t try to catch or identify the snake.
Snake bite first aid kit
The Brenniston Snake Bite Comprehensive First Aid Kit provides the most effective treatment for snake bite, with added extras for comprehensive care that could help save your life, or a workmate’s.
The kit features a Snake Bite Bandage with Indicators. These printed-on graphics show the correct tension point for applying the pressure immobilisation technique.
The Brenniston Snake Bite Comprehensive First Aid Kit is an essential item for any outdoor or remote workplace, mobile and field workers.
It’s proudly designed and produced in Australia with contents regulated and safeguarded by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.