Be prepared: Taipans champion Bites and Stings app!
With summer fast approaching, new research released today on National Venomous Bites and Stings Day reveals that many Australians are missing vital venomous bites and stings first aid knowledge.
A survey commissioned by CSL Seqirus of over 1,000 Australian adults, including over 670 parents, reveals that while almost 1 in 3 Australians (28%) say they or someone they know has been bitten or stung by a venomous creature and less than 1 in 10 (10%) Australians have received venomous bites and stings first aid training in the past 12 months.
Meanwhile, many Australians report encounters with venomous creatures in their homes (18%), backyards (40%), toilets (11%), and beaches (29%),2 but only a quarter (28%) take a first aid kit with them when they venture out to the bush or beach.
With over 3,000 Australians hospitalised each year due to being bitten or stung by a venomous creature, experts are calling on Australians to be more prepared before heading outdoors over summer.
These calls are especially prudent given only a small portion of Australians are able to identify all correct first aid steps for venomous bites and stings, including snake bites, box jellyfish stings, and funnel web spider bites (23%, 4%, and 23%, respectively). Many Australians incorrectly believe a tourniquet should be used for a snake bite or funnel-web spider bite.
CSL Seqirus Medical Director, Dr Julianne Bayliss, said, "Australia is home to some of the world’s most wonderful but venomous land and sea creatures, including snakes, spiders, and jellyfish. And with the changing climate and more Australians enjoying the outdoors over summer, we can expect the likelihood of encountering a venomous creature to increase.
“The Australian Government ensures that emergency treatments are available for Australians if they are bitten or stung, but knowing what to do in the immediate moments after a bite or sting could make all the difference.
Acknowledging there are different first aid techniques for infants and children, less than 1 in 10 (8%) Australian parents are very confident in knowing exactly what to do if their child is bitten or stung. This is half the number of very confident parents three years ago (16%).
The survey showed less than half (40%) of Australian parents surveyed in 2023 had talked to their children about venomous bites and stings first aid, with many saying their own lack of knowledge (24%) is the main barrier to not informing their kids.2
Critically, 1 in 10 (11%) Australian parents do not engage in conversations about venomous bites and stings first aid with their kids because they expect to be covered in the school curriculum.
“While there is currently no nationwide curriculum focused on venomous bites and stings first aid, we encourage Australians to prepare themselves with up-to-date information on how to both prevent encounters with venomous creatures and apply the correct first aid in the event they are bitten or stung,” Dr Bayliss added.
St John Ambulance Australia CEO, Brendan Maher said, “Our first aid courses teach essential skills for responding to common bites and stings. Simple actions like calling 000, keeping a person calm, and knowing how and when to apply a compression bandage or a cold pack, can provide important intervention until further treatment is available.”
“We encourage all Australians to have basic first aid skills, and to carry a well-stocked first aid kit in their homes, and while they are mobile, such as in their car or backpack, including for activities in the Australian environment, such as bushwalking or going to the beach.”
How Australians can be prepared
Most Australians (77%) surveyed believe that knowledge of venomous bites and stings first aid is important, particularly for people living in regional and rural areas. Fortunately, there are simple steps Australians can take to be prepared for encounters with venomous creatures this summer:
- Download the free Australian Bites and Stings App to have up-to-date first aid information on hand if a venomous bite or sting does occur. The latest version of the App has a geolocation feature, allowing Australians to share their coordinates with emergency services if they have at least one bar of coverage.
- Dress and pack a bag for the bush with an in-date first aid and snake bite kit, mobile device, and food and water. When outdoors, wear long pants and enclosed shoes, stay on designated trails, and avoid getting too close to wild animals or putting hands anywhere that can’t be seen. If working outdoors, wear heavy duty gloves and be careful when lifting logs, rocks, or debris, which may be home to snakes and spiders.
- Read up on other first aid resources including First Aid for Bites and Stings, Pressure Immobilisation Technique (PIT) and DRS ABCD via the Australian Bites and Stings website. Resources are available in 10 languages.
The National Venomous Bites and Stings Day is in its second year, aiming to help inform Australians on what to do if they are bitten or stung by a venomous creature.
This year, the day is championed by Australian professional basketball team, the Cairns Taipans, who being based in regional Queensland, see how important it is for Australians to be prepared for encounters with venomous creatures.
Cairns Taipans guard Tahjere McCall said, “Our team is named after one of Australia’s most venomous creatures because of how deadly we can be on the court. But in nature, taipan snakes can do more damage than a three pointer. That’s why, as we head into the warmer months, it’s important for us all to know what to do if bitten or stung by a venomous creature, and the Australian Bites and Stings app is a great place to start.”
The 2023 campaign is sponsored by the Australian Government in partnership with CSL Seqirus.