From pop-culture to information passed down from one generation to another, we think we have picked up some of the handiest tips to survive in the most challenging situations we might face. While much of this information can be and are lifesavers, some of it is truly hazardous advice and must be avoided as much as possible because of the simple reason that it can do more harm than good and are nothing more than mere myths. Here are 10 such survival tips that are nothing more than mere myths.
1. “Stay quiet to not alert the snakes.” Moving quietly in a snake-infested place so as not to trigger them can backfire. Being noisy can actually scare away the snakes.
It doesn’t take much to scare away snakes. and the best way to avoid getting bitten by snakes is to keep them away. Trying to stay quiet around snakes so as not to trigger them leaves them with less time to get away, and once they are too near and feel threatened, they will certainly attack. It is always better to be as noisy as possible around snakes to scare them off. Snakes cannot hear sounds as they don’t have an external hearing organ, but they can feel the vibrations that sound creates, and that is enough for them to be alarmed and slither away. (source)
2. “Wait for 24 hours to file a missing person complaint.” It is a bad idea to wait for 24 hours before reporting a missing person. If you are convinced that someone could genuinely be missing, it should be reported before long. The faster a report is filed, the better are the chances of the person being found.
A myth passed on as popular fact is that a person needs to be missing for at least 24 to 48 hours before a missing-person complaint can be filed with the authorities. While the legal approach varies around the world, most of the time. a missing-person complaint can be filed without waiting for a lapse of 24 hours. And in fact, if there is a chance of foul play, it should be filed immediately as the first 48 hours are very crucial after a person goes missing for the police to trace their whereabouts. The more time is lost, the more difficult these cases become. (source)
3. “Suck out the snake venom to stop it from spreading.” Contrary to this widely believable myth, sucking venom out of a snakebite to save a person can actually make things worse both for the person who has been bitten and for the one trying to save the other.
The dramatic trick of sucking out snake venom after a person has been bitten in order to save the person has been discredited long ago, but still many hold the myth to be true. The venom of a snake spreads very quickly in the body of the victim, and do it is futile to try to suck out the venom. Furthermore, cutting the wound before sucking causes much damage to the tissues, and if the person trying to save the other has cuts in his/her mouth, the venom can reach his/her blood too, and that can prove to be fatal. It is best to not touch the wound and seek the help of a medical expert immediately. (source)
4. “Pull out bullets from the body to minimize damage.” Trying to remove a bullet from the body can tear vital organs and cause excessive bleeding. It is more dangerous than leaving the bullet inside the body.
Pulling bullets out from the body is a dangerous risk. When a bullet enters the body, it is difficult to locate, and if gets beyond the flesh, it cannot be reached without professional aid. It is a different situation if the bullet can be seen or be easily pulled out, otherwise, it is far better to leave the bullet untouched. In fact, there are times when the doctors intentionally leave bullets inside the body, and the person who has been shot lives a healthy life. Trying to pull bullets out to minimize damages can cause severe bleeding, and things can quickly get out of hand. (source)
5. “The first thing to find when lost or stuck in the woods should be finding water and food.” Food and water should not be on the top of the priority list if someone is lost in the woods. the top of the list should be a safe shelter. People can live without food or water for days.
It is a mistake to look for food and water first if someone finds themselves stranded in the wild. Things can get very ugly really quickly, and to survive the scenario, the first thing one should look for is not food or water but shelter. Food actually should be the last piece of the puzzle. The first priority should be shelter, then water, then fire, and finally food. It is estimated that a person can live without food for three weeks and without water from three days to a week, but without a safe shelter, things can be over within a few hours due to the vulnerability caused by the wilderness and harsh weather. Shelter is not only important to stay away from the clutches of wild animals but also to keep one warm and avoid conditions like hypothermia. (1, 2)
6. “Eat snow to stay hydrated.” Eating snow to stay hydrated can cause the body temperature to fall rather quickly. Snow should be melted and drunk to lose less heat.
During emergencies, eating snow might sound like a viable option, except that it is not. Eating snow to remain hydrated is counterproductive, and this can bring down the core body temperature which by all means should not happen if someone is stuck in the snow. To melt the snow and to warm up the temperature of the water obtained for use, the body has to spend a lot of energy which is a scarce resource and will certainly cause the body temperature to fall quickly. Furthermore, snow isn’t pure water and often contains many toxic pollutants. (source)
7. “Cacti are a good source of water.” Using cacti as a source of water without prior knowledge about them in a desert can lead to severe consequences as many of the cacti can cause health complications.
Cacti do contain moisture, and most of the cacti fruits are edible, but using cacti as a source of water to survive in the desert can lead to severe problems. This is because moisture obtained from cacti is acidic, and many cacti have toxic alkaloids which can result in nausea, diarrhea, and even temporary paralysis. In compelling circumstances, using cacti to get some water might come in handy, but there is a delicate balance that needs to be maintained to avoid any health complications. (source)
8. “A hot tub can cure hypothermia.” Trying to warm someone up quickly by dipping the person in a hot tub can trigger a heart attack. A person suffering from hypothermia should be warmed up gradually.
Giving a hot bath to a person suffering from hypothermia with the intention to warm the body quickly is dangerous. Hypothermia is the condition when the body temperature of a person falls below 35 degrees Celsius, and his/her muscles become stiff. A hot bath at this critical juncture can cause shock and a rapid drop in blood pressure. This can lead to a heart attack. A patient suffering from hypothermia, therefore, must be rewarmed gradually using blankets. (1, 2)
9. “Try to outrun tornados.” Trying to outrun a tornado is a dreadful idea. It is far better to stay underground or in a ditch, or at least in the interior rooms.
Most tornados travel at the speed of 35 mph, and this leads many to assume that they can easily outrun tornados in their cars or bikes. But doing so is taking a fatal bet as unlike people, tornadoes don’t need a road to travel and there are no traffic rules for them. Even if traffic rules are ignored during tornados, many people doing the same thing like this at the same time is dangerous. Also, with hail falling all around, outrunning them is easier said than done. The best thing to do during tornadoes is to get to the most interior rooms of the building or down into basements and stay as low as possible. (source)
10. “Moss grows only on the north side of a tree.” Moss can grow on every side of a tree, and it can be a very misleading way to find directions if lost.
Moss grows only on the north side of a tree is an old myth and is a terrible thing to depend on to navigate directions. While mosses have the tendency to grow on the north sides of the trees in the northern hemisphere because north sides receive less sunlight in the region, the exact opposite holds true in the southern hemisphere. Even still, mosses can grow anywhere as long as they find damp and shady areas which can be formed because of many other factors regardless in which hemispheres the trees are. Therefore, it is always better to find a better way to find directions. or simply carry a navigational compass. (source)