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Top 10 Survival "Myths" That ARE NOT Myths!

Posted by on 10/7/2011 to Outdoor Survival

These 10 survival practices are far too often labeled as myths and are discouraged, even though they are in fact true. Below we discuss these 10 survival myths and explain why they are misunderstood.
 
Survival Myth #1
 
Myth: You can not create a fire using an ice lens... In theory it is possible but in practice it can't be done.
 
Truth: Yes you can. In theory and in practice. However it is very hard, takes practice, and even some luck. People have demonstrated this in public, on videos, and in front of my very own eyes. There was an outdoor fest where a group of "Survivalists" were demonstrating survival techniques. They made it a point to do this at noon when the sun was strongest, and they discussed many of the factors that can affect this technique, such as purity of ice, time of day, tinder used, wind, temperature, and so on.
 
Survival Myth #2
 
Myth: Once your water reaches 165 degrees it is 'pastuerized' and safe to drink. Boiling for 10 minutes is a waste of time and fuel.
 
Truth: Well, usually you are safe after 165 degrees or at least once the water starts to boil. However, this is the general guideline because most organisms will die at around 165 degrees or by boiling point, BUT there are still some bacteria, protozoa, archaea, and viruses that can live BEYOND boiling point. Yes, some organisms don't die at 165 degrees and can even withstand boiling for a certain time period. The only difference is these organisms are rare, and most likely won't be present in your water, but it is possible. So if you have the resources to burn fuel and your not in a hurry to drink, then no foul in boiling a few extra minutes.
 
Survival Myth #3
 
Myth: High ground is NOT warmer because the wind chill factor is worse than the slightly colder air temperature of low ground.
 
Truth: Seeking shelter in low or high ground can be a confusing choice. Yes, cold air sinks and hot air rises. But high areas are unprotected from wind and low areas are subject to water collection. The truth is that whether you should seek high or low ground for shelter depends on MANY variables and either one can be the right choice depending on your environment. Not all low ground is sheltered from wind, not all high ground is windy, you can use thick brush or shelter to block wind, sometimes a water source can radiate heat, sometimes water absorbs heat from surrounding air. It all depends, test both areas and let your natural senses be the judge.
 
Survival Myth #4
 
Myth: Don't eat plants, most of them are poisonous and provide very little nutrition.
 
Truth: Yes, if you don't know what you're eating then don't eat it. However, most plants are NOT poisonous and many DO provide good nutrition if you eat the right parts. It can be the root, stem, leaves, buds, fruit, seed, nut, rind or whatever. Just do your research first and make sure you are capable of identifing the plant before consuming.
 
Survival Myth #5
 
Myth: Cutting and sucking out snake venom is ineffective and even dangerous.
 
Truth: If this technique is not done promptly or properly it might not be effective, and cutting an incision could lead to more bleeding and infection. It is often unnecessary to attempt this and that is why it is discouraged. However, in a situation where help is not available and the snake is particularly venomous to the point it could kill you, then by all means cut and suck. The venom in your mouth will not harm you if you spit it out. Even if you manage to only extract a small amount of venom and suffer slight infection it is likely that it may have been enough to save your life if it was a very venomous snake. Snake bite kits are also available and can be effective if bitten in an area where you can not reach with your own mouth.
 
Survival Myth # 6
 
Myth: You can not start a fire by breaking your flashlight and using the coils inside.
 
Truth: If you have a good battery, or set of batteries, and a completed circuit (meaning that positive end of a battery is connected to the negative end through a conducting material without a gap) then you can use the current to heat up tinder enough to have it ignite. I have only done and seen this done with batteries larger than "double A". Maybe that is why people deemed it a myth when they attempted it. Or maybe they didn't produce a functioning circuit and used ineffective tinder.
 
Survival Myth #7
 
Myth: Climbing a tree to seek a high vantage point to determine direction to travel is a waste of energy.
 
Truth: If you know you can get an idea of which direction you should travel by reaching a better vantage point, then you should. Your only other option is to GUESS! I would rather expend some energy and KNOW what I'm doing than just keep going in any direction hoping to get lucky. Navigation is one of the most important survival priorities, so don't wimp out of finding the right path just to save a little energy.
 
Survival Myth #8
 
Myth: Keep your shoes on when crossing streams because preventing injury is more important than preventing wet shoes.
 
Truth: This depends on several factors. For one, how cold is it? Cold feet and wet clothing can rapidly accelerate hypothermia. Secondly, sometimes you can gauge the conditions of the stream bed. The water might be clear and you can see, the bottom might be smooth or free of much debris. Test it out before getting your shoes all soaked if the temperatures are particularly low.
 
Survival Myth #9
 
Myth: Following a stream or waterflow will not lead you to safety.
 
Truth: It is absolutely true that a stream or river is not guaranteed to lead you to somewhere safe, like civilization. But if you have to choose one direction to travel, this is the best chance. Navigating and proactively trying to rescue yourself is important. Your only options are to stay in one spot or randomly guess a direction. I prefer the 'follow the water' method because it is MOST LIKELY that you will eventually come across some type of establishment.
 
Survival Myth #10
 
Myth: Figuring out which way is North is useless and will not help you navigate to safety without knowing where you are.
 
Truth: Of course it would be much more helpfull if you knew where north was, AND which direction you needed to travel to reach safety. Most of the time it's not difficult to get an idea of where you should go if you at least know the region you are lost in. But if you don't then there is still some good from knowing North. Actually, there is nothing special about North, as long as you know any direction. The key is that to proactively navigate to safety you must remain moving in one direction. So often people tend to loop in circles and not even realize it because it is the body's natural tendency to walk on a slight curve over a long distance. If you can keep yourself moving straight your odds of finding safety are the greatest, and using the known direction can guide you to do this.
 
 
Blog Comments
Camping Survival Date 1/11/2012 12:42:00 PM
Actually a pretty good read, I can confirm some of these fire starting myths, and definitely agree on the pro active self rescuing situations. Who the heck said about not eating plants though? Never heard that myth.. but good rebuttle none-the-less.
 
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