By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna
April starts rattlesnake season…
Now that the rain is moving out, are you ready for some hiking, biking, golfing, or yardwork? Hold on before you head out and watch your step! You may be greeted with a surprise. Rattlesnakes are coming out and I’m not talking about those “special” people in your life personally or professionally that slither around ready to take a swipe at you!
Rattlesnakes are found in most U.S. states, but California is “blessed” with more than its fair share. Rattlesnake season in California starts in April, however they can start as early as March and runs through October.
At one point or another, depending upon where you live, you’ve probably encountered them at least one time. But if you take these safety tips and apply them, they won’t come as such a surprise. Rattlesnake calls and sightings are on the increase. Snakes come out of their hiding places and are looking for food. So, there’s plenty of reasons to be proactive and remind us and others the commonsense of snake safety.
Practice these precautions:
- Be on the lookout when walking the hillsides, especially if you’re operating loud machinery that may make it difficult to hear the signature rattle. Note: If you’re wearing headphones, keep music low and practice additional caution.
- Make your home less hospitable to snakes. Yard debris, wood piles, gaps under homes, wooden decks, cement patios and open water sources (snakes feel the drought too!) can attract snakes. Remove brush piles and fill gaps as much as possible. Watch for snakes around pools and ponds.
- Keep bushes and shrubs six inches or less off the ground. This will make the snake feel less secure when hiding, so it will be more likely to move along on its way.
- Watch your feet and hands. If you lose sight of them, such as when you reach under a rock or step into a brush pile, the potential to be bitten increases.
- If you encounter a snake, don’t antagonize it. Giving them space is the best approach. They will generally slither along on their own accord!
- If you are bitten by a rattlesnake, stay calm, dial 911 and seek immediate help. Lie down and keep the affected limb lower than the heart.
- You can outrun a rattlesnake, but you cannot outrun their strike. A rattlesnakes strike is delivered at 1 foot per second, so back away slowly if you are within 4-5 feet of them. The average rattlesnake can move 2-3 mph, while the average human can run 10-15 mph, with the fastest humans running up to 28 mph.