20 Dangerous Survival Myths That Could Get You Killed

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20 Dangerous Survival Myths That Could Get You Killed

Venturing into the wilderness can be both thrilling and dangerous. Whether you’re a seasoned outdoors lover or suddenly find yourself lost in the wild, knowing what’s true and what’s not can mean the difference between life and death.

In survival situations, there are many myths floating around, and believing them could lead you into danger. From wrong ideas about finding your way to misconceptions about food and safety, these myths can be really risky.

In this guide, we’ll take a close look at twenty common survival myths, uncovering the truth behind each one. By learning what’s real and what’s not, you’ll be better prepared to handle the challenges of the great outdoors safely and smartly.

Surviving in the wild requires more than just luck; it demands knowledge and preparation. However, misinformation can lead to fatal mistakes. Let’s debunk some common survival myths that could put you in danger.

Myth 1: Moss Always Grows on the North Side of Trees

You might have heard that moss only grows on the north side of trees, making it a reliable navigation tool. While moss does prefer shady and moist environments, it can grow on any side of a tree depending on various factors like sunlight and humidity. Relying solely on moss for direction could lead you astray.

Myth 2: Drinking Alcohol Helps You Stay Warm

Contrary to popular belief, consuming alcohol in cold environments doesn’t actually warm you up. In fact, it can increase heat loss by dilating blood vessels, leading to a drop in body temperature. Instead, prioritize water and high-energy foods to maintain warmth.

Myth 3: You Can Suck Venom Out of a Snake Bite

Attempting to suck venom out of a snake bite is not only ineffective but also dangerous. It can cause further damage and increase the risk of infection. Instead, keep the affected limb immobilized and seek medical help immediately.

Myth 4: Rubbing Frostbitten Skin Will Warm It Up

Rubbing frostbitten skin can actually worsen the damage by causing tissue injury. Instead, gently warm the affected area with body heat or warm water (not hot). Seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Myth 5: You Can Drink Urine in Survival Situations

Drinking urine should be a last resort in extreme survival situations. While it may provide temporary hydration, it also contains waste products that can harm your body if ingested repeatedly. Prioritize finding alternative sources of water such as collecting rainwater or dew.

Myth 6: Eating Snow Hydrates You

Eating snow can lower your body temperature and lead to dehydration. Your body expends energy to melt the snow, which can cause a net loss of water. Instead, melt snow before consuming it to avoid further cooling and dehydration.

Myth 7: Building a Shelter Near Water Is Always Safe

While water is essential for survival, building a shelter right next to it can be risky. Flooding, predators, and insects are common near water sources. Opt for higher ground nearby and prioritize safety from the elements.

Myth 8: You Should Suck Out the Venom from a Tick Bite

Sucking out the venom from a tick bite can increase the risk of infection and further spread the toxins. Use fine-tipped tweezers to remove the tick as close to the skin as possible and clean the area thoroughly with antiseptic.

Myth 9: Playing Dead Deters Bear Attacks

Playing dead might be one of the most popular survival myths of all time. While it might work for some species of bears, it can provoke others, such as grizzlies. In the case of a bear encounter, assess the situation and follow recommended strategies, which may include making yourself appear larger or slowly backing away.

Myth 10: Eating Wild Plants Without Identification Is Safe

Many wild plants are toxic and can cause severe illness or death if ingested. Always positively identify plants before consuming them, and if in doubt, err on the side of caution. Carry a reliable field guide or learn from an experienced forager.

Myth 11: You Should Drink Your Own Blood to Stay Hydrated

Contrary to popular belief, drinking your own blood in a survival situation is not only ineffective but also harmful. Blood is rich in salts and proteins that your body needs to function properly, and losing too much blood can lead to dehydration and other serious health issues. Instead of resorting to this drastic measure, prioritize finding safe sources of water.

Myth 12: Eating Raw Meat Is Safe in Survival Situations

While it’s true that cooking meat kills harmful bacteria and parasites, eating raw meat in a survival situation can be risky. Raw meat can contain pathogens that can make you sick, leading to diarrhoea, vomiting, and dehydration, which can worsen your situation. Whenever possible, cook meat thoroughly to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

Myth 13: You Can Always Start a Fire with Two Sticks

While starting a fire with friction is possible, it’s much more difficult than many people realize. It requires the right materials, technique, and a lot of practice. In a survival situation, you may not have the time or energy to devote to this method. Instead, carry waterproof matches, a lighter, or another reliable fire-starting tool in your survival kit.

Myth 14: You Should Suck the Venom out of a Spider Bite

Sucking the venom out of a spider bite is not recommended and can actually make the situation worse. Venom spreads quickly through the bloodstream, and attempting to remove it with your mouth can introduce harmful bacteria and increase the risk of infection. Instead, wash the bite with soap and water and seek medical attention if necessary.

Myth 15: You Can Use Alcohol as a Disinfectant for Wounds

While alcohol can kill some bacteria, it’s not the best choice for disinfecting wounds. Alcohol can be harsh on the skin and may delay healing by damaging healthy tissue. Instead, use clean water and mild soap to clean wounds, and consider carrying antiseptic wipes or ointment in your first aid kit.

Myth 16: You Should Follow Animal Tracks to Find Water

While animals need water to survive, following their tracks isn’t always a reliable way to find it. Animals can travel long distances between water sources, and their tracks may lead you astray. Instead, look for signs of water such as green vegetation, animal droppings, or low-lying areas where water may collect.

Myth 17: You Can Swim to Safety in Fast-Moving Water

Attempting to swim in fast-moving water can be extremely dangerous, even for experienced swimmers. Strong currents can sweep you away or trap you underwater, leading to drowning or other injuries. If you find yourself in fast-moving water, try to float on your back with your feet pointed downstream and use your arms to steer yourself toward the shore.

Myth 18: You Can Outrun a Wild Animal

While humans are capable of running at relatively high speeds, most wild animals are much faster and more agile. Attempting to outrun a wild animal can provoke it and increase the likelihood of an attack. Instead, slowly back away while facing the animal and try to find a safe route to escape.

Myth 19: You Can Eat Anything if You’re Desperate Enough

While it’s true that extreme hunger can drive people to eat things they wouldn’t normally consider, it’s important to be cautious when foraging for wild edibles. Many plants and mushrooms are toxic and can cause serious illness or death if ingested. Always positively identify plants and fungi before eating them, and if in doubt, err on the side of caution.

Myth 20: You Should Stay Put and Wait for Rescue

While staying put and waiting for rescue may be the best course of action in some situations, it’s not always the right choice. If you’re in a dangerous or rapidly changing environment, such as a forest fire or a flood, staying put can put you at greater risk. Use your judgment and be prepared to move to safer ground if necessary.

Final Thought

Surviving in the wild is all about being smart and prepared. As we’ve seen by busting these survival myths, believing the wrong information can be just as dangerous as facing a wild animal or a storm. By knowing the truth, you can be ready for whatever nature throws your way. Whether you’re an experienced adventurer or just want to be ready for the unexpected, keep these lessons in mind: stay informed, be flexible, and most importantly, stay safe. With the right knowledge, you can venture into the wilderness with confidence, knowing you’re equipped to handle whatever comes your way.

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