Top 10 Survival Myths

Don't do this. Some survival techniques might seem helpful at first glance, but are actually dangerous. Many are common misconceptions about what to do in life-threatening situations that, in the end, may make things worse. Survival in the harsh conditions of nature is no simple affair, and most lessons can't be learned from television. In fact, some of the "survival advice" that we've picked up over the years is wrong, often dangerously so. Here are some dangerous, misleading survival myths you don't want to use.
The Top Ten
1 Drink cactus water if you're stuck in a desert

It is dangerous. Cacti are not actually spine-covered basins of fresh water. A plant like that would not last long in a dry place with many thirsty animals. Water is truly a precious resource in a desert. Most cactus water contains acids and toxic alkaloid chemicals that are deadly to humans when consumed. Drinking cactus water on an empty stomach will give you diarrhea or make you vomit, further dehydrating you. These chemicals are usually too acrid for most humans to tolerate in their kidneys if ingested.

2 You should ration your water

You're lost in a remote area with a limited amount of water. While drinking that water slowly to make it last seems like a good idea, rationing water isn't your main concern. Rationing water loss is. Water should be consumed when needed to avoid dehydration. Dehydration can lead to diminished strength and motor skills, sluggish cognitive abilities, extreme tiredness, and ultimately death.

But drinking water isn't the only way to stay hydrated. Eating foods with high water content helps you. Foods with high water content include cucumber, watermelon, and grapefruit. But don't eat salty, high-sodium food such as potato chips since it can cause dehydration.

3 Suck the poison out of a snakebite

It is the last thing you should do. Attempting to suck the poison after a snake strike may make things worse because putting one's mouth on the bite can lead to infection. Venom spreads through the victim's system so quickly there's no hope of sucking out a sufficient volume to make any difference. It's also dangerous to cut open the wound to remove the venom. Both acts could also damage nerves and blood vessels.

A poisonous bite requires antivenin and emergency treatment. Victims should be taken to a medical center as soon as possible. Nausea, weakness, and other symptoms of a poisonous bite usually set in after 30 minutes. But the chances of survival are excellent as long as the victim reaches a medical center within a few hours.

After a bite, victims should stay warm and keep the wounded body part below the level of the heart. Avoid running because it increases the heart rate and enhances the absorption of the venom into the bloodstream. Don't shock the victims with electricity.

4 Run downhill if you get chased by a bear

This can be the worst thing you've ever done. They can run downhill, and they are very fast. They can run just as fast downhill as they can uphill. They can run as fast as a horse. Most bears try to avoid humans. Deadly bear attacks are rare. Most bear attacks occur when someone has gotten within about 50 yards of a bear.

In North America, the brown bear is the most aggressive type of bear. Black bear attacks are incredibly rare and usually only come from hungry and/or aggressive males. If you encounter a brown bear, start very slowly backing up. Never run away and never turn your back. If it's going to attack you and there's nothing you can do, lay on your stomach with your hands over the back of your neck and play dead.

They primarily attack when they are surprised or threatened. If the surprise or threat is gone, they will most likely move on. If you've ever met aggressive bears, use bear spray. Remember, running is the worst thing to do.

5 Remove the object if you get stabbed

In extreme cases, pulling out an impaled object can lead to a quick deterioration and even death. If the knife goes into the body in one smooth motion, it will likely create a wound internally that is almost identical in size to the knife. It acts as a cork or plug, fitting almost perfectly into the wound.

If it is pulled out, any blood vessels that are cut will no longer have the knife's edges pressing against them. They will likely begin to bleed either internally, externally, or both, depending on the shape and size of the wound. There will be less bleeding if you don't pull it out. Just let professionals do it. Actually removing the object would not be the first thing doctors would do even in emergency rooms.

Did you know that when Martin Luther King Jr. was stabbed with a letter opener, everyone wanted to pull it out? He refused and was taken to the hospital, where the blade was safely removed. It turned out that the letter opener was resting on his aorta, and extracting it would probably have killed him.

6 Drink your urine to survive

Urine is the waste your body is removing. It won't rehydrate you and will make your body work harder to refilter out the nastiness it got rid of in the first place. Urine is literally your body flushing out toxins. Relying on drinking urine will make you more dehydrated, get you extremely sick, cause fever, infection, and can lead to kidney and liver damage or failure.

Astronauts drink urine in space, but they have high-tech filtration systems. In fact, when you break it down, urine isn't that different from seawater. It's usually around 95% water with a mix of byproducts, including sodium, chloride, and urea. Seawater, by comparison, is 96.5% water and 3.5% sodium and chloride. So drinking urine is basically like drinking seawater. According to one study, it contains at least 85 different bacterial species. Some common ones are staphylococcus, which is known to cause food poisoning, and Actinomyces, which is commonly found in gum infections.

7 You must find food before making shelter

There are a lot of things that can kill you in the wilderness, and starvation is certainly one of those things, but it is unlikely to be the first or fastest thing to bring you down. Humans can live for up to six weeks without food. That's plenty of time for someone to figure out that you're missing and come find you. In all likelihood, you will be rescued before you starve unless something else gets you first.

Water, warmth, and protection should always be your top priorities. In most situations, you won't even survive a week without shelter, especially in the desert.

8 Punch an attacking shark in the nose

This may sound insane, but in circumstances where a shark has initiated an attack, fighting back is one of the best ways to increase your chances of survival. Most people don't have the strength to defeat sharks with one punch to the nose. Shark attack experts now believe that the best way to fend off an aggressive shark is by attacking its eyes and gills. A sharp blow or scratch to the eyes or gills may be enough to scare the shark away. Only fight the shark if it attacks. If it is swimming around you, don't panic.

9 Drinking liquor to warm yourself up
10 Eat snow for water

Snow contains more cold air than frozen water. In any volume of snow, the air-to-water ratio is about 9:1. This means you'd need to eat about 10 quarts of snow to yield one quart of water in your belly. If it is cold enough for snow to be present, then it is cold enough for hypothermia. Always melt snow before drinking. It's safer.

Eating snow can actually dehydrate you. Your body has to work at warming that snow to melt it into a liquid and warming your body temperature back up after eating something so cold. All that energy that the body exerts means that it just dehydrates you a bit more. Eating snow can also lead to hypothermia, which is not something you want to deal with.

The Contenders
11 Rub frostbitten skin
12 Eating raw meat and seafood is safe

Not really. We've all seen the survival show with a charismatic host scarfing down some poor live animal. This may be safe once in a while, but it's hardly a technique to emulate. Raw animal flesh can contain pathogens that may attack the human body, resulting in an extended-onset condition that's difficult to diagnose.

What about sushi, you say? Plenty of folks eat raw fish and don't seem to get sick. Some raw seafood that comes from saltwater is safe for human consumption, but it's only because their pathogens aren't very compatible with the human body. The worms in sushi and the bacteria in oysters aren't usually the right species to take up residence in a human host. Play it safe: kill it and cook it before you eat it.

13 Follow flying birds to find water

They can go anywhere. While some aquatic birds rarely leave the water's edge, others travel far for food. It's been said that geese fly towards the water at dusk, but this isn't always the case. They could simply be flying toward a known clearing to spend the night. Since we have no way of knowing a bird's plans for the evening, we can't rely on it to lead us anywhere.

BAdd New Item