Home is perhaps the safest place for your child; it is a controlled environment that (hopefully) you have made an effort to baby-proof, an environment in which you can easily guard and track their movements.
And yet despite your best efforts, many dangers still lurk within the four walls of home, and most of the time they are not what we expect them to be.
For this South African couple it came in the form of a cobra.
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Willie Esterhuizen, his wife Karin, and their only child, two-year-old Karlien, took a nap in the main bedroom of their farmhouse, after which he got up and watched TV in the other room.
An hour later, he heard his daughter crying, and his wife screaming. He rushed back into their bedroom and found a cobra on the bed. It had bitten Karlien on her hand, between her thumb and index finger.
Willie killed the cobra so the doctors could identify which kind of antivenin to give their daughter.
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The Esterhuizens got into their pick up truck and drove to the nearest town, but halfway through their journey, their daughter’s body started to go limp, and her mouth quickly turned blue.
Karlien died before the family could get a hold of a doctor.
Reports said that her body was just too small to handle the amount of venom the cobra had injected in her body.
Snakebites and how to handle them
Although it is unlikely that you would encounter a cobra the way the Esterhuizens did, a parent should nevertheless be equipped with information on how to deal with snake bites.
Here are a few things to remember:
- Remain calm and move beyond the snake's striking distance.
- Remove jewelry and tight clothing before you start to swell.
- Position yourself, if possible, so that the bite is at or below the level of your heart.
- Clean the wound, but don't flush it with water. Cover it with a clean, dry dressing.
- Don't use a tourniquet or apply ice.
- Don't cut the wound or attempt to remove the venom.
- Don't drink caffeine or alcohol, which could speed the rate at which your body absorbs venom. Don't try to capture the snake. Try to remember its color and shape so that you can describe it, which will help in your treatment.
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