Survival Myths Busted: What You Should and Shouldn’t Do in a Crisis

Imagine finding yourself in a challenging situation where your survival depends on your instincts and knowledge. Whether you’re lost in the wilderness, caught in a natural disaster, or facing any unexpected crisis, having the right information can mean the difference between life and death.

It seems easy to think you’re ready because of what you’ve seen in movies or heard from others, but the reality is often far from these images. The world of survival is plagued by myths – misleading ideas that can lead you astray when you need accurate guidance the most.

With that being said, the purpose of this article is clear: to dispel common survival myths and provide you with the knowledge you truly need to navigate emergencies.

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

One enduring survival myth is that moss exclusively grows on the north side of trees, offering a fail-safe natural compass in the wilderness. This idea has been around for generations and has led many people to believe they can use this natural phenomenon to find their way. But is it true?

The simple answer is no. While it is true that moss tends to thrive in shady, wet areas, this shouldn’t be taken as a consistent guide for its growth pattern.

Moss growth is influenced by a variety of factors beyond just the cardinal directions. Humidity, sunlight exposure, tree species, and other environmental conditions play crucial roles in determining where moss will grow. Consequently, using moss as a reliable compass can easily lead you astray.

What you can consider when determining directions is the position of the sun. For example, it is an accurate indicator of east and west, as it rises in the east and sets in the west.

Additionally, carrying a compass, a tried-and-true navigation tool, ensures you’re always heading in the right direction.

Myth 2: Using a Tourniquet is Necessary for All Bleeding Wounds

Regardless of the severity of the wound, it is a widely held belief that a tourniquet is the solution used to stop bleeding. This myth suggests that applying a tourniquet is a one-size-fits-all approach to controlling bleeding, especially in emergencies.

However, although tourniquets can be a life-saving tool in some cases, they shouldn’t be used universally. Placing a tourniquet too tightly or using it unnecessarily can lead to serious complications.

They can cut off blood flow to a limb and potentially cause permanent tissue damage or even lead to amputation if left on for extended periods. Don’t rely on a tourniquet for minor wounds or wounds that aren’t actively bleeding profusely.

What should you do? Instead of instinctively reaching for a tourniquet in every bleeding scenario, a more effective approach involves assessing the situation.

Applying direct pressure using a clean cloth or bandage is the best immediate action for most bleeding wounds. Elevating the wounded area can also help slow down the bleeding.

Reserve tourniquets for situations involving severe arterial bleeding that cannot be controlled through direct pressure or other means.

Myth 3: Making Noise Scares Away All Wild Animals

Another common misconception is that making loud noises is an infallible way to ward off any potential threat from wild animals. Many people think that animals easily run away when they encounter noise, making them feel safe outside.

Although noise can startle some animals, it is important to note that it varies greatly depending on the species. In fact, making loud noises might have the opposite effect on certain creatures.

Some animals could become curious, agitated, or even aggressive when confronted with unexpected sounds. This is particularly true during mating seasons or when defending their territory or young.

You should understand the behaviors of specific animals you might encounter in the wild. Before you start your adventure, research the wildlife in that area and learn about their natural tendencies. For example, bears might be attracted by the sound of food rustling, while shouting might provoke a defensive response from territorial animals like moose or bison.

Make your presence known by calmly speaking in a normal tone. This can alert animals to your presence without startling them. Carry bear bells or other noise-making devices appropriate for the region, but always consider the context.

If you do come across animals, maintain a safe distance and avoid actions that could irritate them. This should be a last resort choice, but if you find yourself in danger and there are no other options for protection, the use of a firearm with 5.56 ammo or similar ammunition may be considered.

Myth 4: Boiling Water is Enough to Make It Safe to Drink

A lot of people believe that bringing water to a rolling boil is a foolproof method for making it safe to drink. This notion suggests that high temperatures will eradicate harmful microorganisms and make the water pure and potable.

Well, they’re not entirely wrong. Boiling water effectively kills the most harmful bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can cause waterborne diseases. Unfortunately, it’s not a catch-all solution.

Boiling might not remove certain contaminants that have a higher boiling point than water, such as chemical pollutants or heavy metals. These contaminants can persist even after the water has been boiled, posing health risks upon consumption.

To ensure the water you consume is truly safe, it’s wise to employ multiple purification methods.

Start by filtering the water to remove larger particles and sediments. Afterwards, bring the water to a rolling boil for at least one minute (longer at higher altitudes) to kill most microorganisms. For added safety, consider using chemical water treatment tablets or drops as an extra layer of protection. These chemicals can target contaminants that might not be affected by boiling alone.

Myth 5: Eating Insects is Always Safe and Nutritious

The idea of eating insects as a survival food source is fueled by the belief that all insects are not only edible but also rich in nutrients. This myth suggests that insects are a universally safe and viable option for sustenance in a variety of situations.

The thing is, many insects really are edible and packed with nutrients. Still, assuming that all insects are safe to consume can be a risky assumption. Like any other food source, there are potential dangers associated with consuming insects.

Insects can carry parasites, toxins, and allergens that can cause illness or adverse reactions in humans. In addition, some insects accumulate harmful substances from the environment, making them unsafe to eat.

If you find yourself in a situation where insects can be a food source, caution and common sense are essential.

Research and learn about edible species specific to your region, those that have been traditionally consumed by indigenous communities are often a good starting point. Avoid those that you can’t confidently identify as safe, and be wary of bright colors or unusual markings, as these can be indicators of potential toxicity.

Myth 6: Sucking Venom from a Snake Bite is Effective

For snake bites, a popular myth suggests that using your mouth to ingest venom is a reliable way to reduce your risk. It is believed that by doing so, you can eliminate the toxins from the body more quickly and prevent their spread.

However, this myth has little truth to it. In reality, attempting to suck out the venom from a snake bite is ineffective and can even make things worse.

Your mouth doesn’t create enough negative pressure to draw out a significant amount of venom. Also, the act itself could introduce harmful bacteria into the wound, leading to infection. The suction can cause further damage to the already compromised tissues.

The appropriate response to a snake bite involves a different approach.

First and foremost, keep calm and avoid panicking. Immediately immobilize the bitten limb, as reducing movement helps slow the venom’s spread through the body. Try to keep the bitten area at or slightly below heart level to minimize circulation.

Then, seek medical assistance as soon as possible. Professional medical care is vital for assessing the severity of the bite and providing the necessary treatment, including administering antivenom if required.

Bottom Line

When it comes to survival, it’s important to separate fact from fiction. The prevalence of survival myths, often carried on in popular culture, can lead individuals astray in critical moments.

So, if you’ve learned one thing from this myth-busting, it’s that accurate knowledge is the cornerstone of effective crisis management.

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