News of COVID-19 restrictions easing has made it to the snakes and spiders of the Hunter New England region, with several snake bites already recorded this season, including brown and red-bellied black snakes.
Families across the Hunter New England Local Health District (HNEH) are urged to learn how to respond to snake and spider bites quickly and properly, as immediate first aid can help save lives.
Warmer weather, rain and an abundance of food available - in part, due to the mouse plague that afflicted regional NSW earlier this year, has meant ideal conditions for snake and spider activity.
Calvary Mater Newcastle clinical toxicologist, Geoff Isbister says spiders and snakes are most active in the warmer months, and it's worth considering what each of us can do to avoid being bitten.
"Australians love spending time outside, especially in summer," Dr Isbister said.
"But, while enjoying the great outdoors we're less likely to be covered up, which can unfortunately leave us prone to a spider or snake bite," he said.
Think before you turn up a rock or bark, or probe leaf litter and soil with your bare hands. Because all of these activities while harmless in nature could lead to an unwelcome encounter.Dr Geoff Isbister
To avoid being bitten, Dr Isbister shares simple tips such as wearing covered shoes and long pants if in bushland, he recommends to: "Think before you turn up a rock or bark, or probe leaf litter and soil with your bare hands.
"Because all of these activities while harmless in nature could lead to an unwelcome encounter.
"And, if you see a snake remember not to approach it.
"More than a quarter of all snake bites in Australia have occurred because a person has approached the reptile trying to scare or kill it."
He also urged families to learn how to respond to snake and spider bites quickly and properly, as immediate first aid can help save lives.
What to do if you or someone you know is bitten by a snake or funnel-web spider:
- Call 000
- Place a broad, firm bandage around the limb to cover the bite immediately. If the bite is not on a limb, apply firm local pressure
- Keep the person as still as possible. If the bite is on an arm or leg, use a splint to immobilise the limb
As the temperature heats up and we seek comfort at the beach, HNEH also expects an increase in bluebottle stings, as onshore winds blow them onto Australian beaches.
The recommended first aid for a blue bottle sting is immersing the affected area in hot water (45 degrees celsius) for 20 minutes, or a hot shower can also ease the sting.
All HNEH emergency departments are open 24 hours, seven days a week.
For further information visit NSW Poisons Information Centre
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