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Sierra magazine
Survive | Sucked Under

Dr. Gus Benner is Sierra Club Outings' medical adviser.

"Jim did the right thing by staying still. Rattlesnakes aren't aggressive and don't want to waste their venom on nonfood items; when they do strike, many bites are dry. If there isn't significant swelling and discoloration within 15 minutes, you probably haven't been envenomated and can hike out. If there is, you need to get to an emergency room. Walking would only circulate the venom, so taking an emergency locator beacon is a great idea if you're alone. Otherwise, all you can do is lie quietly and hope for that search effort. Note: Do not use a suction device or a tourniquet! It will just make a bad situation worse."

Have you had a near-miss outdoor experience that you learned from? Send your survival stories to Sierra senior editor Paul Rauber at for possible inclusion in a future column.

Illustration by Koren Shadmi



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