Headed for a hike to take advantage of the Southland’s warming temperatures? Watch out for rattlesnakes.
Hiking trails in Los Angeles County are reopening, just in time for summer weather. However, the heat may be bringing out some unexpected guests. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reminded hikers to watch their surroundings, as they could encounter a rattlesnake during their hike.
“We started to see them in early February,” said Kyle Chang, Lieutenant Supervisor for the Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. “But now, they’re starting to come out more and more.”
Chang said the rattlesnakes are primarily out during dusk and dawn, and they’re not usually out in the midday heat.
The species tends to keep to itself, but what should you do if one bites you?
“The first thing is remain calm,” Chang said. “No tourniquets or anything. Try to ice it down and get to the local hospital as soon as possible.”
Chang said the chances of dying from a rattlesnake bite are slim as long as the proper medical treatment is sought.
Within an hour of being bitten, Schacht’s foot started to swell.
Andrew Schacht said he did not expect his hike through the Angeles National Forest to end with a trip to the hospital, until he accidentally stepped on a rattlesnake coiled on the trail.
“We were going around a curve, and I was just talking. My mind was wandering,” he said. “Then, all of a sudden, I step on something and I heard the sound of the snake striking.”
Within an hour, his foot started to swell. He was medivacked to the local hospital.
“The farther it went down the limb, the closer to the bite, the swelling got worse and worse,” he said. “My foot was blown up like a balloon at one point…the pain was pretty excruciating, to be honest.”
“My foot was blown up like a balloon at one point…the pain was pretty excruciating, to be honest,” Schacht said.
Schacht was treated with anti-venom and spent four days in the hospital. Now, recovering at home, he shared this advice for hikers: “Always, always, always watch your surroundings.”
The CDFW shared several other tips for hikers to avoid a run in with a rattlesnake.
The department recommends staying alert throughout the hike and remaining on popular trails. They also said wearing study boots and long pants can help if a hiker does come in contact with a rattlesnake.