While out on a hike or spending the weekend camping with your family, being prepared is vital. First aid kits come in a variety of different forms and come with different contents depending on what the user wants to treat. One kit that many consider vital to have in their presence is a snake bite kit in case of bites or even stings from other insects.
Being prepared for anything is critical, but there is quite a debate over whether or not snake bite kits are all that essential, especially when it comes to the debate of how effective they can be in a moment of need.
Top 8 Snake Bite Kits
While there is a debate over whether or not snake bite kits are of any use, many people still feel more comfortable having one in their first aid kits, especially those who spend a lot of time out in nature, or those who live in areas where snakes are often found.
Generally, there are two types of kits out there to help treat snake bites and insect stings. One method is done by using a scalpel to cut across the bite and then applying suction to it to draw out the venom. The second method bypasses the cutting step and applies strong suction to the wound instead.
Below we have listed the top eight snake bite kits on the market and have ranked them based on customer reviews to give you, the consumer, the most precise look at what is preferred on the market.
This product is one of the most popular on the market as far as extractor kits for snake and mosquito bites, and bee and wasp stings go. This extractor vacuum pump is designed to provide the most powerful suction for the safe extraction of venoms and poisons.
This kit comes with four different size plastic cups that are placed over the sting or bite, along with the extractor pump, alcohol prep pads, sting care wipes, a razor for hair removal and adhesive bandages. Because the extractor is a pump and not a syringe, it is easily handled with a single hand.
2. LIVABIT First Aid Safety Tool F.A.S.T. Kit Emergency Venom Extractor Snake Bite and Sting Suction Pump
The LIVABIT F.A.S.T venom extractor is a double chamber vacuum pump and is designed to provide powerful suction for the extraction of venoms and poisons. This extractor pump extracts venom and poisons from the bites and stings from the likes of mosquitoes, bees, wasps, and snakes.
This kit comes with one extractor pump, two suction cup sizes, two antiseptic pads, two alcohol prep pads and a small disposable tourniquet to slow/stop blood circulation.
This Rothco snake bite kit is small and easily packed into first aid kits. It comes with two large high suction cups, one small high suction cup, and an easy-to-use lymph constrictor. It also comes with an antiseptic saw and a scalpel.
The Ven-Ex snake bite kit is another compact, lightweight and a reusable vacuum pump that is used to draw venom from below your skin.
This kit includes the extractor along with two sizes of extraction vessels that attach to the pump handle. It also comes with a tourniquet band to help control the spread of the venom, and a CPR face-shield and a hard-shelled carrying case.
This kit from Coghlan treats snake bites using the constrictor/suction method and includes not only detailed instructions but three pliable suction cups, an easy-to-use lymph constrictor, a scalpel and antiseptic swabs.
The compact design and bright yellow color make it not only easy to pack in your camping essentials but easy to find in an emergency situation.
The Primacare VE-5444 venom extractor kit features a one-way valve at the insertion end of the suction cap that enables repeated pumping action without the loss of suction, enabling continuous extraction of venom.
The wide-end plastic handle fits into your palm with the index finger hooked onto the “T” to enable the device to be used with one hand. Along with the pump, this kit comes with two alcohol pads and two iodine wipes and a tourniquet.
The Pac-Kit snake bite first aid kit is a complete snake bit kit for emergency use. This can be kept as a standalone kit, or it can be combined with your larger first aid kit!
The Pack-Kit by First Aid Only comes with a single plastic carrying case, a venom extraction pump, tourniquet, two antiseptic wipes, a disposable scalpel, two ammonia inhalants and two adhesive bandages.
This venom extractor vacuum pump enables users to remove the venom of poisonous bites and sting to help delay or avoid an allergic reaction to the bite or sting.
This kit comes with two suction cups, one extractor pump, a tourniquet, and a povidone-iodine and alcohol prep pads.
Are Snake Bite Kits Worth It?
Many find comfort in having a snake bite kit as a part of their larger first aid kits, especially those that spend a lot of time outside, such as hikers and campers. While there are a variety of different kits on the market that are said to help extract venom from a fresh bite wound or sting, there is a significant debate over just how useful these kits really are.
Throughout the years, methods for treating snake bites before getting medical help have varied greatly. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, snake bite first aid is intended to “retard the systemic absorption of venom and prevent life-threatening complication by prompt transportation to a medical facility.”
Some traditional methods of snake bite first aid come in the form of making local incisions at the site of the bite, attempting to suction the venom out of the bite, and using tight bands to tourniquet the limb. Even applying ice to the wound has been used in an emergency situation.
When looking at the snake bite kits currently on the market, they each make use of one or more of these techniques, and while some swear by the methods, current research actually shows that these first aid treatments are not all that effective and can in fact cause more harm than good.
In the paper, “Snakebite Suction Devices Don’t Remove Venom: They Just Suck,” by Sean P. Bush, MD, it is said that most of the first aid kits on the market really are of no help to consumers, and reports on multiple studies that agree with this notion. In fact, of the four studies that were mentioned, only one of them agreed that snake bite extractors work, and that study was not controlled and was done on rabbits, an animal that has a very different physical makeup compared to humans.
Another study done on one of the most popular snake bite kits, the Sawyer Extractor pump, showed that it removed virtually no venom from simulated snakebites in human volunteers, showing about a two present decrease in the total body “venom load,” rendering it almost useless.
As for the other half of the controversy, could these snake bite kits really be causing more harm than good? Research seems to be leaning towards yes. Between unsanitized scalpels and the suction generating tissue damage and skin necrosis, it would seem as if these kits may not be as helpful as some may believe.
So, are snake bite kits worth it? It would seem that they are if you are looking for some peace of mind, but research seems to lean towards no.
Proper First Aid Snake Bite Treatment
If snake bite kits really aren’t all that helpful when it comes to treating bites while out camping or on a hike, then what type of first aid should be considered?
1. Calm the Victim
The most important thing you’ll want to do is calm the bite victim down and make them comfortable. While a snake bite can be terrifying, it doesn’t always mean they are venomous. In fact, 70 percent of all snake bites are nonvenomous while 50 percent of bites by nonvenomous species are dry bites.
2. Immobilize the Affected Limb
Next, you will want to immobilize the limb that bit, but you don’t want to do so by cutting off the blood supply, such as with a tight tourniquet. You simply want to immobilize it enough that the patient can’t use it.
3. Prompt Transfer to a Medical Facility
Once you’ve immobilized the affected limb, the next step is to either call for emergency transportation or take the patient to the hospital as fast as safely possible. The hospital will then be able to administer the proper treatment depending on the type of bite that was received.
Hospital Treatment for a Snake Bite
Once a snake bite victim is brought into the hospital, a number of things will happen. The very first evaluation that will be done will be checking the patient’s airways, consciousness, and circulatory status.
For those in shock, in respiratory failure or cardiac arrest, they will be treated first with urgent resuscitation. Whether this is the case, or whether the patient comes in an alert, oxygen should be administered. IV’s and even catheters may also be inserted while the patient’s history is being taken, or contacts are being made in order to find out their health history.
While this is all happening, doctors will also try to find out what sort of snake bit the patient and check for the severity of the bite. This information is critical because it will determine the course of action needed to treat the wound properly.
Things the doctor will look for include the following:
- Rapid early extension of local swelling from the bite site
- Early tender enlargement of local lymph nodes, which indicate the spread of venom in the lymphatic system
- Early systemic symptoms
- Early spontaneous systemic bleeding
- Dark brown urine
After some laboratory tests and bloodwork, the choice to use antivenom may be made. Ideally, antivenom should be administered within four hours of the bite but could be useful even if given within 24 hours of the bite, and the dosage required will be determined based on the degree of envenomation.
Because of the possibility of an adverse reaction to the antivenom, it is not recommended to buy and administer it yourself. It is just one of those things better left to the professionals.
Snake Bite Kits Can Ease the Mind but Are Not Always Effective
While snake bites are scary and proper first aid can be beneficial, specific snake bite kits may not be the best route to go. While some do swear by them or insist on having one just in case of an emergency, the current research shows that snake bite kits run the risk of doing more harm than good.
So, what should you do if you decide against purchasing a snake bite kit? Keep your general first aid kit stocked up on all the necessities for your outdoor needs. Being prepared will calm everyone in an emergency situation.
If you have a cell phone, you should keep it charged and on your person in case you need to make an emergency call, because when it comes to snake bites or other outdoor accidents, you’ll want a way to quickly reach out for help.
With all that in mind, try to always venture out into the wild with at least one other person. Not only will you have a great company, but if something terrible should happen, then there is someone there that will have your back.