Woman bitten by rattlesnake while hiking on Riverside County trail

As rattlesnake season gets underway, authorities are reminding hikers and all outdoor enthusiasts to be cautious when on trails.

The warning comes after a woman was bitten by a rattlesnake while hiking on the Hidden Valley Trail on the Santa Rosa Plateau in La Cresta. According to the Riverside County Fire Department, the person was airlifted to a local hospital and was last listed in stable condition.

Keep in mind - most bites from the four species of rattlesnakes that live in Southern California occur between the months of April and October.

According to the California Poison Control System, there are about 300 rattlesnake bite cases reported in California every year. 

Remember that rattlesnakes do not always make a rattling sound before they strike. 

About 25 percent of bites are "dry" meaning no venom in injected. Although complications may develop with or without venom, most rattlesnake bites are successfully treated with as little as two to three days of hospitalization.

Here are some helpful tips to protect yourself during rattlesnake season:

When hiking 

  • Always wear hiking boots when walking through wild areas 
  • Stick to designated, well-used trails and wear over-the-ankle boots and loose-fitting long pants 
  • At home and on trails avoid tall grass, weeds, and heavy underbrush where snakes may hide
  • Do not step or put your hands where you cannot see, and avoid wandering around in the dark 
  • Never hike alone - always have someone with you who can assist in an Emergency
  • Leash your dog and watch them closely when out hiking because they are at increased risk of being bitten due to their habit of holding their nose to the ground while investigating the outdoors 

What to do if you are bitten 

  • Dial 911
  • Stay calm
  • Wash the bite area gently with soap and water 
  • Remove watches, rings, etc, which may constrict swelling
  • Immobilize the affected area 
  • Transport safely to the nearest medical facility
  • If the doctor is more than 30 minutes away, keep the bite below the heart, and then try to get to the doctor as quickly as possible

What not to do if you are bitten

  • DON’T apply a tourniquet 
  • DON’T pack the bite area in ice
  • DON’T cut the wound with a knife or razor
  • DON’T use your mouth to suck out the venom
  • DON’T let the victim drink alcohol