You don’t have to scare your child to educate them about snake safety.
Not only are there plenty of ways to reduce risk and prevent a snake bite from occurring, but you can arm your child with the necessary skills to be snake safe in a calm and playful way.
How you react impacts your child’s snake safety
You may or may not be scared of snakes yourself, but how you react to snakes can play a roll in your child’s safety.
If you show negative emotions or high levels of fear, there’s a higher chance your child will develop these feelings about snakes too. You might think this will keep your child safe, when in fact, it could be putting your child at greater risk.
Sudden movements made by a frightened child would make any snake uneasy. If your child sees a snake it’s safer for them to remain calm, so it’s important that you try to remain calm and positive toward snakes too, whether you like them or not.
Learn and talk about snakes together
Start your journey on snake safety by learning about snakes together. You may even start to feel better about the scaly critters yourself. Here are some ideas to help:
- Learn about snakes. They really do have some wonderful qualities. Not sure they do? Check out eight ways to appreciate snakes.
- Talk about why some snakes can be dangerous. Some snakes have venom, others constrict their prey. The snakes with venom can be dangerous but they only use it to kill their prey and to defend themselves.
- Read snake books. There are plenty of lovely books out there that celebrate snakes and allow your child to see snakes as they are, rather than something evil and dangerous.
Prevention is the best form of snake safety
If you are going into an environment where snakes may live, it’s important to:
- Wear closed-in shoes to protect your feet and ankles.
- Stomp your feet more vigorously when you walk. Snakes can pick up vibrations through the ground and are inclined to slither away from you if they can feel you coming.
- Keep an eye out for snakes. Remaining alert might mean that you see the snake before it sees you.
- Leave it alone. People that get bitten by snakes are generally the ones doing the wrong thing. They may be trying to pick it up, throw stones at it or kill it. Snakes only bite if they feel threatened. If you leave them alone, you should have no problem at all.
- Take a first aid kit with you and know how to administer first aid for a snake bite (see below).
As with all Australian native animals, snakes are protected under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 and cannot lawfully be killed. (Education Qld)
What should your child do if they see a snake?
It’s important to remind your child not to panic if they see a wild snake. If you’ve been positive toward snakes, then there’s a greater chance of that. It can be hard to stay calm but the safest way to prevent a snake bite is to stand still and wait for the snake to move away from you. Once the snake is a good ten meters away, you can move back slowly.
Role play being snake safe
Once you’ve talked to your child about what to do if they see a snake and made this craft snake, you can start role-playing. Hide the snake around your backyard. Ask your child to act as if the snake is real.
This activity was so much fun and a real hit with Miss Possum. She loved looking for the snake and then freezing as soon as she saw it.
Miss Possum saw a snake.
She froze. The younger Miss Platypus did too!
Miss Possum walked backwards once the snake was gone (I removed the snake).
Snakebite first aid
It’s a good idea to learn how to treat a snake bite if it happens too. We used this information from Education Queensland to teach us what do in the event of a snake bite.
It’s unlikely your child will ever be bitten by a snake, but should they ever encounter a startled slithery reptile, it’s always better for your child to be prepared.
It can take some self-control, especially if you’re not fond of the creatures – but staying positive towards snakes, being prepared when you go out on hikes and role-playing snake safety are all great ways to ensure your child has the necessary skills should they ever come face-to-face with a wild snake.