Staying Safe with Copperhead Sightings on the Rise

KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Every time Randy Shamblin works near his wood pile, he does it with caution.

It's a lesson learned the hard way.

"Threw a piece in the truck and looked back, and there it was," said Shamblin. "It was like 2 feet away from me."

'It' was a copperhead snake, curled up and ready to bite.

"It scared me to death," said Shamblin. "I know how poisonous they are. Yeah, I was very lucky it didn't strike me."

Friday, one elderly woman near Clendenin wasn't so lucky when a bite from a copperhead sent her to CAMC General Hospital.

"They said they treat about one bite a week," said Art Shomo.

Shomo is a public information specialist with the Department of Natural Resources.

He says copperheads often bury themselves in rock and wood piles. If you get bitten by one, you'll know it.

"It's almost an immediate pain and swelling," Shomo said.

According to the DNR, not every bite from a copperhead snake is venomous. In fact, about one of every three is a dry bite in which no venom is injected at all.

If they kept using their poison to scare animals off, or humans off or whatever, then they'd have to take a while to replenish that poison," Shomo said.

If you do get bitten, the first step is to identify the snake, and get to a doctor or the emergency room right away.

"Usually the worst thing you gotta worry about is the skin falling off and infection setting in," Shomo said.

That's a scary thought for Shamblin, and he literally takes steps to cut his risk.

"You always look down before you take that next step. You never know," he said.

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