Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Hiking. Protection Against Snake Bites. Gaiters.


You might wonder what on Earth are these? They are called, "gaiters," and fashion has nothing to do with them. Gaiters act like shin guards against briars and other thorny plants, worn by those who work outdoors like forestry rangers, ranchers, and farmers. Gaiters come in different styles and material, but they normally protect the ankles up to the knees.

This pair provides protection against snake bites. New material called SuperFabric makes protection possible without putting on the usual thick, cumbersome gaiters with polycarbonate sheets embedded in them. This pair is flexible and light, made by Whitewater. I got this pair from http://www.forestry-suppliers.com/

I believe that such protection is necessary for hikers considering that rattlesnakes, copperheads, and cottonmouths are not rare along the trails, and they can be difficult to spot on the ground. I am willing to accept the prevailing theory that snakes, like most wild animals, will avoid hikers if given enough time to move out of the way. But, sometimes, they surprise each other. The usual bite scenario involves stepping on a venomous snake, or putting your hand where you can see. And don't count on a rattlesnake rattling its tail. They don't always rattle when approached.
There are about 20 species of venomous snakes in the United States. Copperheads account for most of the venomous snake bites in the U.S. but their bites are seldom fatal since their venom is least toxic. Supposedly, less than ten people in America die from snake bites, and most of them were bitten by a rattlesnake. Approximately 8,000 people a year are bitten by a snake in the U.S.

For $62, you get some peace of mind out on the trails. That's less expensive than several days stay at a hospital plus the physical pain and trauma. Your life is certainly worth more than $62.

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