Awareness and caution are the keys to preventing snake bites this summer. When hiking or just enjoying the outdoors, keep an eye out for snakes. Keep in mind that most snakes are masters of camouflage and can hide in plain sight. South Carolina has several venomous snakes to keep watch for including the copperhead, cottonmouth, coral snake, eastern diamondback rattlesnake, canebrake rattlesnake and pigmy rattlesnake. Here are some tips to help you prevent snake bites.

1. When hiking, stay on the trails. Avoid tall weeds or grasses and avoid underbrush. Staying on the trail keeps you safe from snakes hiding in the brush to catch prey or avoid predators.

2. Wear boots and long pants. Wearing boots and long pants gives you an extra layer of protection should you get bitten. Never wear sandals or go barefoot where snakes might be present as this provides no protection against snake venom.

3. Never hike alone. Especially in remote areas, you should always hike with a buddy in case of emergency. If you do get bitten by a snake, have your partner take a picture of the snake to show medical professionals. This will help them identify the snake and give you the proper anti-venom.

4. Don’t touch or disturb a snake. This is true even if the snake appears to be dead. Some snakes will play dead to avoid predators or catch prey. Even if a snake is dead, it can still bite and envenomate by reflex for some time after death.

5. Always look for hidden snakes before picking up sticks, firewood or stones. Snakes are masters of camouflage and can often hide in plain sight, particularly in wooded areas and near or around the bottom of trees. Look and listen (in the case of rattlesnakes) for snakes before picking up anything from the ground.

An abundance of caution and awareness of where snakes like to hide out is essential to preventing snake bites. Even non-venomous snakes can harm you as bites can become infected and cause serious problems. Always be sure to stay on trails and keep your dog on the trail as well, if you take him hiking with you. Always have a human buddy with you and make sure both of you are aware of these 5 keys to preventing a snake bite this summer.