It doesn’t take much to get into a survival situation. Unfortunately, there are a lot of survival myths floating around.
Myths that can get you killed.
You don’t have to be in an extreme adventure scenario to need survival tips. You could be close to home, hunting, fishing or even just taking a walk in the woods.
Even in these “everyday adventures,” survival myths could cost you your life.
Myth 1: Tree moss will help you determine compass directions.
It’s all too easy to get turned around in the woods. In other words, lost. What do you do? You know that a road or your vehicle is to the east, but which way is east?
Everyone has heard this one: moss grows on the north-facing side of a tree. Seems simple enough. Once you find the tree moss, you know where all the compass points are, and you can start heading in the right direction.
How it can kill you: Moss can grow on any side of a tree that is shaded and near water. Yes, moss does grow better on the north side, but if you’ve ever seen moss on a tree, you know that it can grow anywhere. If you think you know north and start heading in the wrong direction, you might not be heard from again.
Better bet: Compass, and not the one on your phone (see Myth 4).
Myth 2: Hypothermia only happens in freezing temperatures.
We’ve all been out hunting or fishing and didn’t wear enough layers. It can get mighty cold. But don’t worry. Hypothermia can only happen at extreme temperatures, in places like Antarctica.
How it can kill you: First off, hypothermia can happen even in the summer. A person who is tired, wet and in the wind can get hypothermia. It only takes a drop of a few degrees for symptoms to set in, and if the victim doesn’t get help in a few hours, they could die.
Better bet: Wear appropriate clothing, stay dry and stay out of the wind.
Myth 3: If you get bitten by a venomous snake, suck out the poison.
Most places we hunt, fish or hike have snakes. Some of those are venomous, and they’re not easy to see, so being bitten could happen.
According to movies and TV, cut an “x” on the bite and suck out the poison.
How it can kill you: Several ways. First off, sucking isn’t a very effective method for extracting poison. You’ll get some, but not all. Then, you already have an open wound. Cutting it more and then getting saliva in the wound invites bacteria in.
And that’s just the person who gets bitten. The person who is trying to help is getting poison in their mouth, which is then poisoning them. And if you get bit and suck out the poison yourself, that means the poison that gets absorbed by your mouth is going back into your system.
Better bet: Get to the hospital and get proper treatment.
Myth 4: If I get into trouble, I can use my cellphone.
People use cellphones for just about everything these days. We even take them hunting and fishing. And even the most basic use, the phone call, can save a person in a bad situation, right?
How it can kill you: Even with a cellphone, it’s possible you could never be heard from again. How many times has your phone battery just about died? How many times have you lost signal just a few miles from home?
Better bet: Let someone know where you’re going and when you should be back.
Myth 5: I’m only going hunting/fishing/hiking. I don’t need to worry.
A day hunting or fishing or hiking isn’t going to result in a survival situation. You know the woods, the rivers, the lakes. What can happen in a few hours?
How it can kill you: A survival situation can happen in a few seconds, even in a place you’re intimately familiar with. One slip or trip. One wrong turn. And without some survival skills (that aren’t myths), it could be your last trip.
Better bet: Take a page out of the Boy Scouts playbook—be prepared.