How To Avoid Rattlesnake Attacks

rattlesnake

Found throughout the North and South Americas, rattlesnakes are large and venomous snakes. The greatest concentration of rattlesnakes around found in the Southwest of the United States, and Northern Mexico. Arizona is home to the most species, with 13 different types of rattlers. The feature that all of the rattlesnake species share is: the rattle.

Anyone living in these areas has most likely heard the distinctive rattle and knows fine well that it is a warning that you are encroaching on their territory. The rattle is made up of keratin segments that fit inside one another loosely at the end of the tail. The rattle sound is produced when the rattlesnake holds the tail vertically and vibrates the rattle. When rattlesnakes shed a layer of skin they add another segment to their rattle.

Zoologists at the San Diego Zoo believe the rattlesnake to be the newest, thus most evolved, snake in the world. So it makes perfect sense that scientists consider the rattle to be the most sophisticated warning system. They also hiss, similar to how a cat does. Rattlesnakes utilize their rattle and hiss to warn people away; snakes are deaf, thus the hiss is a warning for other animals, not snakes.

Rattlesnakes range in size from as small as one foot up to 8 feet, dependent on the species. Thick bodied with ridged scales, rattlesnakes come in a variety of patterns and colors. The majority of the species feature dark diamond patterns on a lighter background. In addition to the rattle, they also have facial pits that are heat sensing, hinged fangs, triangular heads and vertical pupils (again, like a cat). Young rattlesnakes have yet to grow their rattles, however they are still as dangerous, if not more so, as the adult is. Moreover, adults can lose their rattles- so the triangular head is the indicator you could look out for.

Rattlesnakes are incredibly adaptable and can flourish in a variety of environments. However, they are mostly found in desert sands, grasslands, rocky hills and scrub brush. Additionally, in the meadows of the Northeast and the swamplands of the Southeast. They can be found at sea level, right up to 11,000 feet.

They generally create dens in rocky crevices and those dens service multiple generations of rattlesnakes. In fact, rattlesnakes can use the same den for over 100 years! They leave dens to sunbathe on rocks, or other open places, and though they aren’t nocturnal they tend to be more active in the evening during the hottest months. In addition to the hissing and rattling, they tend to exhibit other defensive behavior such as coiling their bodies and raising their heads.

They mate during the spring and summer; thus males frequently engage in combat. They carry their babies for around 3 months, give birth to live babies and then slither away immediately after the birth. They give birth every two years and generally have 10 babies. They can live for up to 25 years.

Rattlesnakes lie in wait for their prey, and their favorite foods are lizards and small rodents. They strike quickly, using their venom to paralyze their prey and then swallow them whole. They eat every around every two weeks.

If you encounter a rattlesnake it is likely that you have caught them hunting for lunch, or heading for a sunbathe. You are most likely to be bitten by a rattlesnake when stepping on them accidently. They can be fatal, however with proper medical treatment the bites are usually not serious.

The symptoms of a venomous bite include: temporary, or permanent, tissue damage, muscle damage, internal bleeding, extreme pain around the bite site, and potentially losing an extremity, or death.

However, a number of species have venom that also contains neurotoxins and those symptoms include vision problems, skeletal muscle weakness, difficulty breathing, difficulty with swallowing and speaking, and potentially respiratory failure. Still, fatal bites from rattlesnakes are rare provided medical treatment is sought immediately.

There are 29 species of rattlesnakes, so how can you avoid falling prey to these beasts?

Use the above tips to know how to identify a rattlesnake, though it should be noted that there are other poisonous snakes. So you should proceed with caution regardless. You should be aware of the area in which you are travelling, especially if you are hiking. Is the area known for rattlesnakes?

Ensure that you wear thick socks and hiking boots of good quality- this will help protect you from the rattlesnake fangs in the event of a run in. Never wear open toe shoes or sandals when you go hiking.

You should never go walking, climbing or hiking without a fully charged cell phone. Always hike with a friend. Don’t poke around rocks, or stick your hands in holes or in brush. Stay on the beaten path.

If camping, always arrive to your campsite in daylight so that you can set up in daylight and fully inspect the area before you set up.

If you have children with you ensure they know to be aware of what is going on around them, and teach them the warning signs of rattlesnakes.

Obey the warning signs- if you hear furious hissing and rattling then know you are in the area of a rattlesnake. Stop immediately and survey the area around you in order to identify the snake’s location.

Understand that rattlesnakes strike quickly, and their strike distance can be up to one half of its total length. If you have encountered a rattle snake and they are hissing and rattling then it is a good bet they are coiled, in this circumstance you will be unable to determine its length. You should remain calm, turn around and slowly walk away.

If you have been bitten keep the bite lower than the heart- elevating the bite will spread the venom more rapidly. Remove rings, as venom can cause swelling. Call 911 and wait for assistance.

Credit Card Fraud & Tips To Protect Yourself

cardsWhen someone steals your personal information, such as address, phone number, account information, social security number, etc., it leads to identity theft. They use this information to open various lines of credit in your name, they could possibly take out a mortgage, secure credit cards and run them up, or even buy a car.

Credit card fraud is when someone gains access to your open credit card account and then uses it in order to buy items, or indulge in other illegal behavior. It costs credit card companies millions every year, and while the consumer isn’t responsible for it there is long term damage. The perpetrator still has your personal information, and could repeat the process ad nauseam. It can also take quite some time to clear up your credit score, and the other issues that come with credit card fraud.

However, it is far worse in situations of identity theft, so when it comes to credit card fraud your involvement should end as soon as you report it to your credit card company. As soon as you realize your card or information has been stolen you must report it.

The number of cases has risen over the last 5 years, however, you can take steps to protect yourself from credit card fraud and identity theft.

Sign your credit card as soon as it arrives, and never let it out of your sight. Do not give your credit card to anyone.

Checkout ABC’s Dan Harris’ piece on cards with chips.

When you are asked to provide personal information consider who is asking for it and what it will be used for. That includes basic information like your name, address, phone number and date of birth. Extend that to requests for account numbers and social security numbers.

If you aren’t the initiator of the interaction be wary. Con artists rely on their charm and persuasiveness to take advantage of others, so they will say anything to get the information that they want. Do not respond to emails, phone calls or text message seeking your credit card information.

This is especially important when you are ordering over the internet, by phone or through a catalogue. You will more than likely be asked for the three-digit security code on the back of your card. It is what merchants use to prevent fraud and verify that the card itself is in the possession of the person placing the order. If you’re dealing with a reputable brand then you should feel comfortable providing this security code, but be aware of who you give this number to. Ensure the website is secure.

Another way to ensure that you are extremely safe is to use a shredder.  Shredding all of your documents that contain personal information is an excellent way to ensure it is difficult for anyone to gain access to your personal information. Be sure to shred those pesky credit card applications that arrive, too.

Use a secured mailbox. Consider the amount of information that is sitting in your mailbox on a daily basis- checks, credit card bills, plenty of sensitive information. Another way to combat this is by setting all of your bills to electronic. You don’t need to worry about personal information in your mailbox or dumpster diving if all of your personal information is coming to you online.

If receiving your bills electronically is wise, then paying them electronically is just common sense. It saves you time, you don’t need to buy envelopes and stamps and you don’t need to worry about sending checks through the mail.

When creating your password don’t pick anything involving birthdays, family names, or other information that is easy to discover. It’s important to create strong passwords and the majority of websites will give you an idea of just how strong your password is when you create it. The best way to create a strong password is to include both upper and lowercase letters, as well as including numbers in the middle. The longer you make your password the harder it will be to crack. Change your passwords regularly, too, and don’t use the same password for every website. In the event that someone does crack it they would then have access to everything.

Keep your PIN number safe. They’re as common as passwords are now, so you will use it at the ATM, at payment points and sometimes even websites are requesting them in a bid to prevent fraud. Make sure you memorize all of your PIN numbers and passwords. Don’t write them down, do not carry them in your wallet and do not save them on your computer. Do not send your information via email, or text.

Don’t carry all of your personal information in your wallet. You don’t need your social security card in your wallet, and you don’t need every form of identification. It might sound like a hassle to take limited cards out, and only carry the credit cards you need, however it is much less hassle than dealing with credit card fraud or identity theft.

Everyone is always on their cell phone, but remember where you are. If you’re talking on your phone in public, then everyone can hear you- so don’t share personal information over the phone.

Make sure you check your credit card charges when each bill comes in. Beyond that, check your credit score regularly. Federal law entitles you to at least one free credit report on an annual basis. There are some states that require even more than one free report a year.

You can also subscribe to a credit monitoring service from the credit card issuer or a credit bureau- they will alert you via text or email if there is a change to your credit score.

The tips above are meant to help you protect yourself from credit card fraud, while it may seem like an effort- it will save you both time and money in the long run.

 

Harmful Interactions – Mixing Alcohol With Medicines

shotWhen discussing mixing alcohol with medication the majority of people assume this direction is with regards to prescription medications. That is not the case, however, there are a number of over the counter medications that can cause reactions when mixed with alcohol.

Most people don’t take the risks seriously, because a lot of people have mixed meds and alcohol and not suffered any adverse effects. That doesn’t mean your liver hasn’t been left with long lasting damage, though. Additionally, mixing alcohol with medicine can lead to dizziness, confusion, overdoses and in some cases- death.

This doesn’t happen every time to every person who mixes concoctions, but it could happen at any time depending on a number of variables.

If you drink frequently you are more likely to have a negative interaction with medication, and vice versa.

Elderly people are especially at risk, as they develop chronic diseases and take regular medication.

Additionally, medication sticks around in your system far longer than you think. If you’re unsure look at the manufacturer’s website to check for the half-life of your medication. Many common medications take as many as 3 or 4 days to be completely out of your system.

The following information is based on this fact sheet that the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism. It is important to note, however, that these are not the only medications that can have adverse effects when mixed with alcohol- this is a list of the most common medications we take today that can lead to adverse effects.

 

Acetaminophen

Also known by name brands such as Advil, Tylenol, Aleve, Motrin and Excedrin.

Mixing acetaminophen with alcohol can lead to severe liver damage, if you drink 3 or more alcohol drinks in conjunction with this medication. Drinks quite commonly pop a couple of acetaminophen after drinking in order to stave off a hangover- this in itself can lead to an upset stomach or worse: ulcers and bleeding. With particular non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like naproxen and ibuprofen, there are already potential side effects relating to upset stomachs- but that risk rises as you drink while taking these medications.

Prescription Pain Killers

The common ones being Vicodin, Demerol and Percocet.

This is a common way to abuse painkillers, in order to boost your buzz. However, you could die by doing this. For those who already suffer side effects with prescription pain killer’s alcohol will only serve to exacerbate them. Mixing pain meds with alcohol can leave you feeling dizzy and drowsy, slowed breathing, short memory, unusual behaviour, and impaired motor control. This can lead to a number of other dangers in addition to the immediate health impact.

Blood Clot Medication

Namely: Coumadin (warfarin).

This is a common medication for the elderly, but the dangers of mixing with alcohol are deadly. It can cause internal bleeding, and in the event of heavy drinking can lead to blood clots, strokes, or heart attacks.

Blood Pressure Medication

To name a few: Norvasc, Losartan, Lopressor, Norvasc.

As well as drowsiness, dizziness and the risk of fainting- mixing blood clot meds with alcohol can lead to a number of heart problems, namely arrhythmia.

Cholesterol Medication

Niaspan, Zocor, Crestor, Vytorin, Lipitor and a whole host of other medications.

All medications relating to cholesterol can cause liver damage, some can increase bleeding in the stomach, while some will leave you itching.

Diabetes Medications

Micronase, Diabinese, Gylnase, Glucotrol, Orinase and more.

Drinking while taking these medications makes it far more difficult to control diabetes. It can cause dangerous low levels of blood sugar. Additionally, it can bring on flushing, which leaves you feeling nauseous, vomiting, with headaches, a racing heartbeat and issues with your blood pressure.

Allergy Meds

In addition to the Benadryl’s and Claritin’s of the world- cold and flu meds like Sudafed Sinus, Tylenol Cold and Flu, and more fall into this category.

Many of these medications cause drowsiness, alcohol exacerbates this. Additionally, many of these medications also contain acetaminophen which means they have the added side effects of damaging your liver.

Cough Meds

Robitussin C and Robitussin Cough are common types.

There are been an alarming emergence of “Lean” abuse in recent years, which has been popularized by a number of young popstars. This is mixing a codeine based cough syrup with candy and lemonade and lime soda. This can lead to serious, even life threatening, side effects as it increases the risk of overdose.

Anxiety & Depression Medication

Klonopin, Valium, Xanas, Paxil, Ativan, Prozac, St John’s Wort, Nardil, Effexor, Zoloft, Seroquel, the list goes on and on.

The majority of these meds come with side effects of varying degrees. Mixing them with alcohol not only renders them useless, but leaves you at greater risk of overdose. It can impair your motor control, cause memory problems, leave you feeling drowsy and dizzy, and impair your breathing.

Additionally, it can leave you feeling hopeless, and more depressed than you were originally.

Attention Deficit Medication

Ritalin, Focalin, Adderall, Strattera to name but a few.

Mixing these with alcohol can actually make concentration incredibly difficult. You can be left feeling dizzy and drowsy, with liver damage and an increased risk of heart problems.

Indigestion Medication

Zantac, Reglan, Axid and more.

This could leave you with a racing heart and a lower alcohol tolerance. Reglan and alcohol can have an impact on your blood pressure.

Sleep Aids

Sominex, Lunesta, Ambien, Valerian, Lavender, Chamomile and more.

All of these are designed to make you feel sleepy to enable you to get to sleep and rest throughout the night. However, combining these with alcohol can cause overdoses, as well as impairing motor control, affecting memory and leading to strange behavior.

 

It might not seem like a big deal at the time, or it might even appear to be fun, but the long term effects that mixing alcohol and medication can have is dangerous.

It’s important to read the pamphlets that always come with medicine- if something says to avoid alcohol while you are taking it then you should do so.