While most people likely won’t encounter a rattlesnake while on Jeffco Open Spaces trails, it’s not an impossible event. Mary Ann Bonnell, visitor services manager for Jeffco Open Spaces, offered a few safety tips to stay safe.
“Appropriate footwear is a really good start,” Bonnell said.
Closed-toed shoes that also cover ankles is a good way to protect against a snake bite.
She also said to be mindful of your surroundings, noting many people like to listen to podcasts or music with headphones on while hiking or running.
“You can’t hear a rattlesnake if it’s trying to warn you,” Bonnell said.
She also said dogs should be on leashes for their own safety.
“Dogs explore with their face,” Bonnell said.
So if a dog sticks its nose under a rock or into a bush where a rattlesnake happens to be hiding, the dog would likely get bit.
When encountering a snake, Bonnell suggested a “30-30” rule: give the snake 30 feet of space for 30 seconds.
“The most important thing to do is give the snake space and time,” Bonnell said.
The snake will likely want to flee. Poking it with a stick or throwing a rock to prompt it to move will likely provoke it rather than deter it.
If bit by a rattlesnake, the most important thing to do is stay calm and minimize movement so the blood flow does not carry the venom through the body faster. She said it’s important to always know which trail and part of the mountain you’re on so that when you call 911 rescuers can find you quickly.
She said the bit part of the body should be level to or below the heart.
If a dog is bit, she said it needs to be carried off the mountain immediately. Pet owners should call the veterinarian’s office en route to ensure it has the anti-venom is in stock and if not where they can go to get help.