Top 10 Survival Myths
Most of us first learn what we know about survival from movies and TV shows. Unfortunately, what we see on TV does not always work in real life. Hollywoods goal is to entertain us, not to educate us. In this article I am going to BUST the Top 10 Survival Myths.
1. Food is your top Priority: In reality, food is often your last priority. You can live 3-6 weeks without food, however, you can only live about 3 days without water. Remember your priorities of survival; Shelter, Fire, Water, THEN Food!
2. You should suck the Venom out of a snake bite: This one is often seen in old wild west movies and is still preached by some today. Once the venom is injected into someone, there is no way to get it out. Trying to suck it out is just putting you and the victim at more of a risk. When a snake injects the venom much of it is squirted onto the surface of the skin. By sucking on it you are now ingesting the venom which could cause serious respiratory issues or get into your blood steam if you have any open wounds in your mouth. Also by sucking on it you are exposing the victims wound to your saliva and all of the bacteria contained in it. If you are bitten by a snake, your best bet is to get to a hospital as fast as possible.
3. Fire by friction just takes persistence: Hollywood often shows the lone survivor rubbing sticks together and not getting anywhere, but he just keeps at it and eventually he has smoke and finally fire. In reality, you won’t get fire by friction if you are just persistent enough. You have to have the right material and the right skill to get fire by friction.
4. Shelter means a roof over your head: Shelter does not mean a roof over your head, it actually means a bed to sleep on. This is because you will lose more body heat to the cold surface than you will to the air above you. Insulating yourself from the ground is often a higher priority than protecting you from the wind.
5. Play dead if attacked by a bear: This myth is only half true. If you are attacked by a grizzly bear or brown bear, playing dead might save you. However, if you are attacked by a black bear and you play dead, they will most likely proceed with eating you. You need to try and scare off black bears. “Brown lay down, Black fight back”.
6. You need to boil water for 10 minutes: The CDC recommends boiling water for only 1 minute to kill any pathogens. 3 minutes if you are at altitudes higher than 6,562 feet (2000 meters). Any further boiling is just a waist of fuel and waste of water due to evaporation.
7. Moss only grows on the north side of trees: This is just simply not true. You can often find moss growing all the way around trees, especially in shaded forests or near water.
8. Running water is always safe to drink: Running water might be SAFER to drink, but it still is not safe to drink. The reason for this is because you don’t know where that water is coming from – there might be a swamp filled with pathogens and bacteria just half a mile up the stream.
9. You can drink salt water in small amounts: No, do not drink salt water in any amounts. Even mixing it with fresh water is a bad idea. The salt will only further dehydrate you.
10. All cacti contain drinking water: This myth again is perpetuated by old western movies. But cacti are not filled with water. Some might be moist inside but many of them actually contain toxins that will give you diarrhea which would further dehydrate you.