By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

And I’m Not Talking About Those in the Workplace or in Your Personal Life…

With temperatures warming many people will be out hiking, having picnics, working in the yard, or golfing. But there is a warning that goes with this time of year and this type of weather: Snakes are out! And I am not talking about those “special” people in your life or at the office!

April and May mark the beginning of rattlesnake season in California. If you have worked in the fire service here for long, you have probably encountered them at one time or another. Unless you are one of those odd people who seem to like getting startled by a rattler while digging fire line in a canyon somewhere, encountering snakes is not a pleasant experience.


Each year, an estimated 7,000–8,000 people are bitten by rattlesnakes.

Practice these precautions:

Be on the lookout when walking the hillsides, especially if you are operating loud machinery that may make it difficult to hear the signature rattle. Note: If you are 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, do not 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.

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