safe family hikes and preventing snake bites

Snakes! (Or, How To Still Enjoy Nature with Your Kids)

One of my favorite ways to spend a weekend morning (when I’m not at Body Boost of course) is on one of the many beautiful hiking trails we have in the Triangle. If you’ve spent even 2 minutes on Facebook, Instagram or Nextdoor recently, you’ll also be aware that the snakes like this season just as much as we do. Perhaps this blog is a way for me to cope with my own personal trauma from last week’s hike but I’d like to share some tips I’ve picked up for hiking during snake season.

What was my own personal trauma you ask? My 3-year-old blissfully unaware of the tap dancing routine he is performing right over a copperhead. We were enjoying a hike from the Shinleaf campsite (a beautiful hike-in campsite at the northern end of Six Forks on Falls Lake). We (a friend, my 5yo, 3yo, and myself wearing the baby) made it all the way down to the water and were making the trek back to the car when I spot a copperhead and ever so elegantly shriek “Aaaahhhh, snake!” It was shear luck that my 3yo didn’t trample this poor sucker. In my son’s defense, he was very well camouflaged.

I am happy to report that we all made it out snake-bite free. The reality is that he didn’t want to bite us anymore than we wanted to be bitten. But we picked up some tips that I want to share in case we happen upon another of these fellows on future hikes.

  1. Stay on the trail (preferably in the middle). Don’t let your kiddos walk into the brush where snakes like to hide out.

  2. Practice playing “Freeze” in random places. The supermarket, at the playground, during bath time. Make it a game so that when you need the kiddos to freeze, they know exactly what to do and don’t proceed to tap dance over a copperhead hours after you’ve yelled “Ahhhh, snake”. Ok, it wasn’t hours but it sure did feel like it. If you prefer, Red Light, Green Light can serve this same purpose.

  3. Always look down when hiking. The view is nice but don’t forget to watch where you’re putting your feet.

  4. Wear closed-toed shoes. The kids may want their sandals, especially on hot days, but trust me that this is a battle worth having. Insist on proper hiking footwear.

What happens if someone gets a snake bite?

Make sure you have a plan in case someone does get bitten. Our plan was for my friend to pick up whichever kid was bitten and run to the car. My job would have been to call 911 and explain the situation while I got the other 2 kids to safety. Then of course a trip to the ER to let the experts take over.

NC's venomous snakes shouldn’t deter you from enjoying the beautiful nature all around us. You just need to be smart and stay alert. Happy hiking!

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