Top 5 Myths about Extreme Survival

Written by Michael Wynands So, you think you have the skills and knowledge to face a life-and-death scenario and come out the other side? We’ll see about that. Welcome to WatchMojo’s Top 5 Myths. In today’s instalment we’re counting down the top 5 Survival Myths. Thanks to the countless wilderness and survival television shows out there, we’ve got a whole subset of the human population that feel totally capable of surviving in extreme scenarios, despite a complete lack of actual training or experience. We’re exploring some of the greatest misconceptions about what to do in emergency situations because, quite frankly, the stuff you learned on TV could get you killed. Special thanks to our users Daniel Fong, 7GreenHornet, and Ashjbow for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Written by Michael Wynands

Top 5 Survival Myths

So, you think you have the skills and knowledge to face a life-and-death scenario and come out the other side? We’ll see about that. Welcome to WatchMojo’s Top 5 Myths. In today’s instalment we’re counting down the top 5 Survival Myths.

Thanks to the countless wilderness and survival television shows out there, we’ve got a whole subset of the human population that feel totally capable of surviving in extreme scenarios, despite a complete lack of actual training or experience. We’re exploring some of the greatest misconceptions about what to do in emergency situations because, quite frankly, the stuff you learned on TV could get you killed.

#5: Boiling Water Makes It Safe

Boiling is an excellent method of purifying water when you don’t have access to your own fresh supply. A one-minute rolling boil works to kill off any bacteria, viruses or parasites that may call that mystery water home. But those aren’t the only things you need to worry about when finding fresh water. Boiling doesn’t eliminate dirt or debris. If your water is murky, you should find a way to strain it before consuming it, as you have no idea what those particles could be. In a jam, any clean cloth material can work as a strainer. Sadly, in the case of chemically-contaminated water, there is no quick fix to render it drinkable.

#4: Moss Grows On The North Side of Trees

The knowledge passed down by explorers and Bushmen of yesteryears have given us many practical, low-tech wilderness survival tips and tricks. For example, if you’re without a compass, you can use the Big Dipper to identify the North Star. You can also set up two sticks to track the movement of the night sky and orient yourself that way. Sadly, this oft-repeated moss-based method of identifying north does NOT work quite so well. While many types of moss do tend to grow on the north side of trees due to sun conditions, they can easily creep to the other side of the trunk depending on where shade falls. In reality, moss will grow anywhere cool, damp and shady.

#3: Swim Parallel To The Shore in a Riptide

You see… some of these myths may prove helpful in certain survival scenarios. But their application is always conditional to a number of situation-specific factors. If applied universally with blind faith, they can prove fatal instead. Case in point: Swimming parallel to the shoreline is often an effective method of escaping a riptide. But it only applies for riptides pulling you directly away from shore. While that is the most common form, others exist. Drift currents can run parallel to the shore or even diagonally from it. In such cases, swimming parallel to the shore will do you no good, and may actually worsen your situation. In any strong current, swim perpendicular to the flow, never against it.

#2: Use A Tourniquet To Stop Heavy Bleeding

For once, we encounter a myth that television shows are actively helping to dispel rather than reinforce. Luke Cage was on the receiving end of a stern reprimanded for improperly applying a tourniquet in the Marvel Netflix series. It’s not that tourniquets shouldn’t be used… it’s that they should be kept as a last resort, and only applied by someone who has received proper training. In brief, it should only be used after amputation or to staunch the blood loss from a wound bleeding profusely enough to result in imminent death. As soon as a tourniquet is applied, there is a heightened risk of nerve damage, blood clots and the loss of the limb in question.

#1: Drink Your Piss To Avoid Dehydration

Dehydration makes people desperate, so much so that they may attempt to drink ocean water, or source it from a cactus. Before continuing with urine, let’s just clarify this minor myth… you can’t “tap a cactus”. The contents are often highly acidic, toxic or sure to make you violently ill. When it comes to extreme dehydration in hot dry environments, urine might provide an extended lease on life, but it will be short-lived and not without cost. Urine leaves the body for a reason, and drinking it reintroduces waste, putting added strain on your system. Most experts recommend using that urine with some material to make a cooling wet bandana for your brow instead, to help regulate body temperature.
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