You can see more and more people wearing a paracord survival bracelet and talking about survival and prepping as they’ve seen it on TV, movies or after reading about it in various magazines. However, what the media transmits to the consumers does not reflect what true survival requires and this is how survival myths were born.
Although the media can have a positive impact and now, more than ever, people are stocking on food supplies and other survival items, the average person will have a hard time surviving a natural or man-made disaster. If people will continue to develop a false sense of security as transmitted by the media with the sole purpose of entertaining the masses, they will most certainly perish in a real-life survival scenario.
I’ve had the chance to discuss with many people about survival and I couldn’t help notice that there are a few survival myths that have been embedded in the minds of the masses. Somehow, people believe in them and they don’t even bother to question them. As for putting these survival myths to the test, well… most of them think that when time will come, they will be ready and this knowledge will save them. I think it’s time to unlearn some of these ‘survival rules’ and give the reader a fighting chance to endure an emergency situation and emerge stronger and more confident by avoiding these mistakes.
You should learn to distinguish fact from fiction if you want to survive a worst-case scenario and you should always test the information you receive. Read on to stay informed and make sure to pass this knowledge forward.
Eight Survival myths busted:
No fire, no problem!
Most people think that fire is a given and that it can be easily created in an unknown environment. That might be true if you have a lighter in your pocket or some matches, but without fire starting gear, you’re going to learn this the hard way. Rubbing two sticks together to make fire doesn’t work like in the movies and fire by friction is not a guarantee. Even the most experienced survivalists know that starting a fire without tools is a daunting task, it takes time and most importantly it takes patience. There are many factors that play an important role in creating a fire, factors such as having the proper material, moisture in the air, past experience and so on. Making fire without modern tools is a skill that takes time to be mastered and you should never assume that fire is a given in a survival situation. To save yourself from a cold night, carry a fire-starter with you at all times.
Suggested articles: Making a fire when the odds are against you
I need to eat first to stay strong
We are a generation that is used to eat more than three times per day and we are programmed to see food as our top priority. That may be true on a day to day basis, but when you are in the woods, food should be considered only when you have taken care of all the other survival tasks. Finding water and being able to purify it comes first, erecting a shelter and starting a fire that saves you from hypothermia are all important steps to keep you mentally prepared for what comes next. You should take care of these tasks before trying to fill your belly. Humans can survive weeks and even months before they succumb to hunger. Even tough your stomach may give you other instructions, you shouldn’t listen to it and you should concentrate on the priorities.
Hypothermia only occurs in cold climates
This is one the survival myths that will get most people killed because they think that hypothermia can become a problem only in cold climates. They couldn’t be more wrong and there are many factors that can make hypothermia a harsh reality. A wet environment, blowing wind and high elevation is all it takes. These conditions can be found almost anywhere and it doesn’t matter if you’re in the jungle or in a damp forest. To be safe, you should follow a simple rule: stay dry and warm; it’s all it takes to prevent your core body temperature to drop to a life-threating level. Dry your wet clothes, add an insulating layer between you and the ground, build a fire, etc. All these actions will keep your body’s temperature high and you will live to fight another day. You don’t need snow and ice to create hypothermia and it can sneak up on you even in the friendliest environments.
Recommended article: Eight fire types you can make in the wild
If it’s flowing water, it is safe to drink
This is another one of those survival myths that have been transmitted on by former generation and we somehow think that if water flows, it can clean itself and it is safe to drink. This wasn’t true decades ago when pollution wasn’t such a big problem as it is today and it was mainly a gambling game. Just like back then, chances are you won’t be lucky enough to find a clean water source. After walking for hours during a hot day, the sound of a quick-flowing stream will tempt you to quench your thirst, but you should resist the temptation. Bacteria, viruses and other harmful parasites can hide even in the most crystal clear waters. All these waterborne pathogens are waiting patiently to enter your body and even though you are not thirsty anymore, you have given them a chance to create life-threatening problems. If you drink unpurified water you could end up with diarrhea, vomiting and nausea. These are all symptoms that you need to avoid during a survival situation because they can lead to a full-body shutdown. You should purify all the water you need to use, including the water you will use for washing your face. To ward off this worry, you should carry a water filter with you or you should consider options such as water purification tablets or iodine pills.
All these wild plants will keep me fed
Thinking that you can pick and eat wild plants randomly in order to survive is wishful thinking in my opinion and many will make this fatal mistake when being stranded. The vast majority of wild plants are not edible and some can make you incredibly sick or they can turn your lights off for good, even though they look appealing. I’ve heard many people talking about foraging and currently, there is a hunt for morel mushrooms even though many of them cannot tell a true morel from a false one. Foraging is a skill that takes years of experience and even experienced foragers can still make an error when selecting wild edibles. Even if you have a field guide with you, mistakes can still happen and you should avoid eating something if you are not 100% sure it is safe for eating. It is better to be safe and hungry than eating poisonous plants that can get you killed.
Suck the venom from a snake or spider bite and you will survive
The venom from a snake or a spider will enter your bloodstream almost immediately upon being bitten. In many movies you see the character making an X cut on the bite mark to suck the poison out just to gain more time. Instead of gaining more time, you will waste precious time that you could be using in order to get professional medical assistance. This is one of the survival myths that we just can’t get rid of and many people don’t know that the residual poison from the bite area may harmfully affect your lips and mouth. Even more, if you make the mistake of ingesting the venom, your internal system will be affected and you will diminish your chances for survival. Instead of doing surgery on yourself and experiment what you’ve seen in the movies, you should seek for professional help as quickly as possible.
Suggested reading: Spider bite guide – Know your spiders!
Hunting and fishing will keep hunger away
Most people will assume that wild game and fish are plentiful in the wild and it’s just waiting for them to get there. If Rambo made a spear from his knife and managed to hunt a wild boar that provided him with a large quantity of bacon, that doesn’t mean you will have the same success out in the wild. First of all, we need to separate fact from fiction and second, hunting and fishing require practice and a lot of knowledge if you want to rely on these skills for obtaining food. Even with the most sophisticated hunting weapons or fishing gear, bagging a meal is not an easy tasks. Becoming a successful hunter or fisher takes a lot of practice even when you are equipped with every piece of gear you can think of. How do you think it will work out for you when a survival situation catches you unprepared? You need to learn about your region, about what type of game can you find and how to catch it. You should learn to set up deadfall traps, snares or fish containment pens if you want to improve your chances of survival in the wild. Even with all this knowledge, chances are that the outdoors meals you are hoping for may never arrive.
I’ve read about all of this I’m ready
Watching survival shows, reading books and magazines or spending tens of hours on the internet reading about survival and prepping, will worth nothing if you are not curious to test what you have learned. The best preparation is experience, and only by testing the knowledge you’ve accumulated you can discover what works for you, how you can improve your skills and eventually, you will learn from your mistakes. Without testing what you’ve learned, you will break down quickly both physically and mentally in a survival situation. Your best survival tool is your mind and you should know how to use it and how to develop a survival mindset. I’m not telling you that you need to become a survival expert or an experienced prepper, but you should at least have the wits to look for alternative solutions to the problems you might face during a crisis scenario.
The survival myths listed in this article can easily be unlearned and you need to question things before you taking them for granted. I’m sure there is a lot more false survival knowledge being transmitted out there and it is up to us if we decide to question it or follow it blindly. It’s better to put aside these survival myths and learn to distinguish fact from fiction.
Stay safe out there!
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