JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A South Carolina mom is offering a warning to parents after her son was bitten by a copperhead snake while playing outdoors in his bare feet.
Poison Control of Jacksonville is echoing the warning and said it usually receives the most calls about snake bites from spring to summer. The agency said warm weather is to blame because snakes are more active and people are beginning to spend more time outdoors.
Lauren Heldreth said to her surprise, her son, Brooks, wasn't bitten in a grassy area, but on their driveway outside their Bluffton, South Carolina, home while she was just feet away.
"Brooks started screaming hysterically," Heldreth said. "He was screaming, pointing at his foot. I looked down, and I saw the small coiled snake."
Heldreth said it was a baby copperhead, which she says are common where they live, but that she never expected to see one in the middle of the driveway.
"We did have Snake-A-Way (repellent) down but it wasn't in the general area for this because we never thought we would have an issue in the driveway," Heldreth said.
Heldreth said Brooks received anti-venom and had to spend about 1 1/2 days at the hospital. He's now at home recovering and doing some therapy.
In the future, Heldreth said neither she nor her family members will be barefoot in the yard or driveway.
Heldreth said Brooks was barefoot, which is something she never thought twice about. She said it's common in the area for both children and adults to walk around outside barefoot, as the beach is nearby and the weather is usually nice. Bluffton is about 2 1/2 hours away from Jacksonville, with a similar environment and climate to Northeast Florida.
As easy and convenient as it may be to step out into the yard barefoot, Poison Control Jacksonville recommends putting shoes on first. It said to avoid open-toed shoes. Boots are the best option because they also protect the legs.
In 2019, eight cases of snake bites in Northeast Florida were reported to Poison Control in Duval, Clay and St. Johns counties to date. That's down from 13 cases reported during the same time frame of 2018.