Surviving the wilderness may sound fun to some, especially when you have the notion that it’s all about camping, hunting, and sharing stories by the fire. The real deal, though, involves more terrifying situations like getting stranded and having no access to food and water for hours or even days.
So it’s important to know survival tricks to help you see the next day. But make sure you avoid survival myths that can get you killed, especially these myths.
1. You can drink water from a cactus
Any liquid inside a cactus will be highly acidic and likely to cause nausea and diarrhea, further dehydrating you.
Dehydration is one of the leading causes of death in the wilderness, and no, a cactus won’t help you with it, no matter how many films tell you it would. In fact, according to one Reddit user, “barrel cactus, I believe, give you debilitating diarrhea.”
2. Follow flying birds to find water
Since birds can fly everywhere, and you might end up somewhere that’s even more dangerous than where you started, this one’s definitely a myth.
Someone shared that “You can follow flying birds (except for owls) to land if you’re lost on open water though, according to my Pacific Ocean elders.” Another user jokingly said, “Fish are the ones you should follow to find water.”
3. When conserving water, you should not stretch a glass of water over several days
No doubt, this is one of the popular misconceptions people usually have about survival. Someone in the thread shared, “I’ve heard people die of dehydration while still having water because they tried to conserve it.”
This is especially important if you’re stuck in a hot place. If you’re thirsty, drink water.
4. If you’re in a tornado, open all your windows to equalize the pressure inside to match the outside.
The truth is that opening any window or door will lead to creating a wind tunnel that can rip your entire roof off.
One user commented, “If I recall correctly, it doesn’t matter anyway—you waste time doing that when you need to get to the lowest part of a building and/or the innermost room. Cracks and small openings take care of air pressure as buildings aren’t airtight.”
5. do not rub someone’s frostbite skin or pour hot water on it to warm them up
Body heat is still the fastest and safest way to warm up someone, so sharing each other’s body heat is the first-aid solution to frostbite.
Someone shared, “I’m not sure if I remember correctly, but I feel like in Boy Scouts, they taught that the groin and armpits were good places to warm your hands in an emergency survival situation.”
6. Moss grows on the north side of a tree
The direction doesn’t matter, molds grow all over the tree, so it’s not the best way to use when you’re lost.
A PNW-based (Pacific North West) kid said he learned about this when he was young and that “I was very confused. I remember looking at the trees during recess and thinking I’d for sure get lost.”
7. Change your voicemail if you are lost
Someone noted, “You need a cell signal to change your voicemail. If you have a signal, then why wouldn’t you just call for help?” Why go through the entire process of changing your voicemail when you can just call 911?
8. Split to cover more ground
When looking for someone, it is best to stay and stick together.
Splitting up to cover more ground may lead to losing each other in the process. “That’s a killer’s wet dream,” according to one of the users.
9. It’s okay to eat raw meat or pick and eat fruit out of bear poop
While not all the stuff Bear Grylls does is a terrible idea, not all is good too. When it comes to the food you eat in the wilderness, it is still advisable to be careful.
And just like what one user suggested, “staying in a nearby luxury hotel to eat food instead of roughing it in the wilderness” is a better option.
10. You can eat everything that an animal can eat
Animals and humans have very different dietary needs.
One person in the thread even claimed, “There are things animals can eat that humans find toxic, so eating everything you see animals eating can lead to you potentially eating deadly berries or mushrooms.”
11. Water that looks clean is good to go
Not everything is what it seems. With water, it will always be best to boil or distill it before using, even if it seems clean.
Someone in the thread suggested, “Carry a modern filter like a Lifestraw or Sawyer if you think there’s even a remote chance you’re going to be stranded with no potable water.”
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