-- Stay away from areas where there may be a concentration of venomous snakes, such as swamps, marshes and bluffs.
-- Wear protective footwear in areas where there are likely to be snakes. Thick leather or rubber boots or hightop hiking shoes will protect feet, ankles and lower legs.
-- Never place your hands under rocks or logs; do not step over rocks or logs. Step on them first, then over.
-- Step lively when hiking. Look the ground over, particularly around large rocks or logs, when you stop to stand or sit.
-- Wear rubber boots when fishing in streams that may harbor the venomous cottonmouth. If a cottonmouth falls in your canoe or boat, don't panic -- get to shore and flip the snake out with a paddle, net or fishing rod. Trying to kill the snake in the boat may cause the snake to bite you or cause you to fall into the water.
-- Avoid any snake you cannot identify. For current information on snakebite first-aid, contact your nearest American Red Cross.
-- In the event of a venomous snakebite, seek medical attention immediately.
Source: Missouri Department of Conservation