7 survival myths that will get you killed

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7 Survival Myths That Will Get You Killed

Between folklore and television, there is so much false survival information floating around today that most people will probably not make it through a true survival situation. I place a large portion of the blame for this on “couch commandos.” These are the guys (and gals) who own every survival book in existence, but have never applied the techniques in the real world, so their only experience is what “should” work, which they mindlessly repeat to anyone willing to listen. This continues over and over until falsehoods become accepted as gospel, so it’s time to dispel some of these myths.

1. You can cut open a cactus for water. You can cut open a cactus, and it does contain fluid, but don’t expect to hydrate yourself this way. First, it’s a pain in the ass to get into them. I ended up in the desert without a knife once, and for curiosity’s sake, tried to bust one open using rocks; I tried stabbing it with small, sharp rocks, and repeatedly threw 30–pound boulders at the damn thing, and after 15 minutes, I had barely scuffed the thick outer skin. You won’t get into a cactus without an axe, machete, or at the very least, a very large, very sharp knife; pardon the pun, but your Spyderco folder isn’t going to cut it. If you do happen to cut it open, you won’t find a reservoir of water like you may have seen on television—it’s more of a slimy, bitter gel. Making matters even worse is that if you do manage to choke the foul goo down, it’s going to cause diarrhea and vomiting, and as a result, further dehydration.

2. Alcohol will prevent hypothermia. We’ve all seen the movies where the rescue dog with a miniature barrel of brandy attached to his collar dashes through the snow to a nearly frozen victim, who happily slurps the spirits, instantly warming up and returning to safety. It’s true that drinking alcohol does make you feel warmer, but that’s only because it increases blood flow to the surface of your skin. This presents a dual problem of giving you a false sense of security and reducing your core body temperature more quickly. Unless you’re sitting in a cozy ski lodge, avoid the alcohol.

3. I can live off the land. When the settlers landed on Plymouth Rock, they had plenty of experience living off the land (hunting, foraging, farming, etc.) and were well-versed in primitive skills like fire-starting and making the most of natural resources, yet they still nearly starved to death. Today there are fewer wild animals and edible plants and far more people than then, and few people possess even a fraction of the skills that our settlers had. If living off the land is your only plan to sustain yourself and your family, you’re in for some rough, potentially deadly times.

4. I know everything I need to survive. Contrary to popular belief, knowledge is not power; knowledge is potential power. I’m a big fan of learning as much as possible, but there is a huge divide between just reading a book and executing a particular technique in the real world. I am fortunate because I have a diverse training background; I’ve received formal training from some of the most advanced experts during my time in the Marine Corps and had the opportunity to execute various techniques in every environment imaginable. Today, I make a point to continue learning, and more importantly, continue practicing in the field.

5. You can survive a snake bite by cutting an “X” on the puncture wounds and sucking the venom out. Please do not try this—you will die faster than if you had done nothing. Cutting the wound exposes the poison to more blood vessels, enabling it to spread more quickly, and you can’t suck all, or even most of the venom out anyway—it was injected under pressure by what amounts to a hypodermic needle deep into your tissue. In fact, much of it will have already entered your bloodstream before you can get your knife out. To further complicate matters, any venom you do manage to suck out will be absorbed sublingually, going straight back into your bloodstream. I recommend getting your ass to a hospital with a quickness where they can treat you with proper anti-venom.

6. Fresh urine is a safe way to stay hydrated. There is a very small bit of truth to this one—nearly clear urine is about 95% water, and 5% uric acid and other wastes, but it will still be a cold day in hell before I drink any. It technically can help you stay hydrated for a little while, but the longer you go without fresh water, the more concentrated the waste materials in your urine will become and the more harm it will do to your body.

7. You can determine direction by moss on a tree. Supposedly, moss grows on the north side of a tree trunk. In reality, it doesn’t—it grows where it damn-well pleases. During my latest trip through one of Florida’s many swamps, I saw moss on all sides of most trees—and I’ve seen the same thing all around the world. It would be convenient if it were true, but it’s not, and basing your navigation on this myth can lead you in circles until long after you run out of food and water.
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Kol Drake replied the topic: 7 survival myths that will get you killed

A good list....

#1 - Yes, most cacti are not 'pop top' soda cans. But, it also depends on the kind of cactus it is.
Prickly pear cactus has a flat 'leaf' covered in spines. You can take them and almost roast the outsides over a fire, effectively burning off the spines. Then you can chop them up (they have a thinner skin) and mash for watery pulp which you can process or stick into a solar still to extract pure water. A rain barrel cactus has a really thick skin... but if you CAN get inside, it's a gooey pulp. Almost like watery sawdust in some ways. You *can* shove a handful in your mouth and suck on it but it's not really tasty. Again, if you can, take out the 'innards' and use a solar still to get pure water.

SO, a REALLY good knife. Many 'practical survivalists' (the guys and gals who run out every weekend and hike/hunt/camp ,etc. recommend having at least 5 blades when the apocalypse happens. Here is a website where the fella tells what NOT to get...
What to Avoid when selecting a survival knife

#2 - Totally agree. And, since I do not drink any alcohol it would be a no-brainer for me. I'd rather use the alcohol (depending on the type) to wash wounds or even jump start a lamp or torch before thinking it would help in the cold.

#3 - Having lived just down the road from Plymouth Rock and walked around Plymouth Plantation while they were building the re-enactment settlement, I got to hear the history many times. Ya, they just about died. But it wasn't due to being totally unprepared as much as unprepared for the conditions they got. Arriving in the fair spring or fall, they would have had their socks knocked off by the harsh first winter... no matter how well stocked they were. One 'bad' growing season and their ready food supplies would be down the hole. And sickness. It all can snowball plenty fast.

And goes with #4.
Knowing and reading stuff is fine but if you do not get out and DO it; it's still nearly useless. Ya, I *know* six ways to make simple fire. I can almost get 2 ways to work most times in ideal conditions. But if it's winter and cold or raining... 'sure things' go out the window. Worse if you are thinking you know how to hunt and skin animals because you watched all 11 episodes of some idiot on the Discovery Channel. So, practice makes for REAL Knowing. (and ya, don't expect you to wrestle and skin a bear but... go to some dock and ask if you can learn to gut a fish sometime... every little bit helps.)

#5 - Hearing from friends who live or visit there, Australia is like one gigantic 'most deadly everything' magnet. Still, the bushmen get bitten more then their share and most live to tell about it. And all they do is take a few days sitting under any available shade. No sucking, no cutting. The 'no movement' helps to keep the poison from flowing quickly to the heart and other organs. Ya, IF possible, get to a hospital ASAP. If not, try making a tourniquet and tighten and loosen it over time to slow 'exposure' as much as possible until help can arrive or *you* get to help. IF you are totally isolated and the zombies will not let you travel, then sit tight... work the tourniquet, plenty of water and chill. It will be rough going but, unless it hit right into an artery, you have a fair chance of survival. (( and ya, it depends on the kind of snake and poison.. but I'm thinking more the typical US 'viper' aka rattlesnake... not coral snakes or black mambas and stuff.)

#6 -- okay.. just ewwww. Most use urine (the clear NOT the bright yellow stuff!) to moisten the lips. Some few swish it about in their mouth and then spit it out. Not too many willingly swallow it. Again, use a solar still and you CAN get pure water from it and that's your best bet. so... maybe 'solar still' should be on the 'must know how to make and use' list.



You can 'enhance' the still by putting the cactus pulp or fresh leaves and plants around the 'water catcher' in the pit. They will 'sweat' out the water to add to the catch. If you have 2 containers or line the bottom with plastic, that is where you can put 'dirty water' or urine so it will evaporate and process into the 'catcher'. So, a hole in the ground, some plastic, a rock and a 'catcher' and you can get water almost anywhere... even in the desert.

#7 - Definitely. I've lived in everywhere but the deep southeastern US and .. no matter the area or the kind of trees... moss grows. Better to learn to make a 'solar compass' for direction finding. Some sticks, some stones, a shadow and a little time and voila' you have directions.




Bet this list could be plenty longer.
Let's hope no one has to experience it first hand to add to it!
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Kol Drake replied the topic: 7 survival myths that will get you killed

Saw this and thought it would fit in (kind of) --- the Altoid can survival 'pack'.
While bare minimum, handy to have in a car glove compartment, bike pack, backpack or whatnot.

Altoid Survival 'kit'

I noticed an item he did not mention but which I still have (a few actually) from my military service.
The good old, P-38 can opener!

There is also a P-51 which is larger but, the old '38 fits on a dog tag chain, in a pocket or that Altoid tin nicely.
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Jax replied the topic: 7 survival myths that will get you killed

Thanks, that's great additional information. Yes, Australia is one long exercise in survival. Even the dang trees can kill you! lol

One of the things I want to do in Colorado is take classes on survival. I haven't built a fire in decades either, and while I have a fire starter it isn't easy without practice. Once I start hiking I will always have a small survival kit on me, along with one of my knives. It's just too easy for a storm to blow in quickly in the mountains. Or to fall and get hurt. Thankfully there are many places to learn how to hike more safely, and groups so I won't just start hiking alone without any skills.
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Lisa replied the topic: 7 survival myths that will get you killed

Well my father once made me learn on how to survive in the wild
he bought me a book on what you could eat and what you cant eat. I thought it was really cool on how
there are so many things you can eat like you can eat a dandelion flower, i never knew that.
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Jax replied the topic: 7 survival myths that will get you killed

There are lots of plants that are safe to eat. :-) Have you tested or practiced any of the things in the wild?
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Lisa replied the topic: 7 survival myths that will get you killed

No, not really we don't have any near by places were you can do that
maybe one day i could go camping and try it out.
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Jax replied the topic: 7 survival myths that will get you killed

Yes, because that goes under the category of knowing how to use the knowledge you have. I know I would not survive well at the moment, not even after watching so many episodes of Survivorman! lol But since I want to be an active hiker I need to regain skills I have lost. :-)
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Kol Drake replied the topic: 7 survival myths that will get you killed

Somebody somewhere needs to write a 'how to survive in the big city' survival book. :lol:

- where to find fresh water if the taps run dry;
- which pigeons taste like chicken
- how to start/make a cooking fire without having the police and fire department hosing down your apartment
... (or is that a mini bar-b-que kit?)
- what's the best material for barricading against zombie attacks
- which designer shoes last longest if you have to hike out of town

... you know, city survival stuff.
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Lisa replied the topic: 7 survival myths that will get you killed

i do have a really small woods but its not much, me and my freind used to walk in it every day it was really fun
but then she moved and i dont even know if the woods is still there. I remember once i watched an episode of the survivor man and he was in the desert and he did the same thing as the diagram above on purifing your urine and drinking it. I thought it was gross but i guess if you really need it then.
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