Megan Bryant is a passionate writer and traveler who has combined her two loves to help others fulfill their traveling dreams. When she isn’t writing, she’s usually curled up with her 3 Dachshunds and a good book or planning her next adventure—wherever that may be.
Traveling can be one of the greatest adventures of your life. But if tragedy strikes, it can also be one of the worst. Hopefully, you’ll never be in a situation where you need to rely on survival techniques. However, it’s best to be prepared just in case.
There are a lot of potential survival techniques that you’ve probably heard of. But are they actually safe and, well, life-saving? If you do find yourself in a sticky situation, steer clear of these survival myths.
Rubbing Frost Bitten Skin
When our hands get cold, it’s a natural instinct to rub them together to warm them up. However, if your hands have been exposed to freezing temperatures and frostbite has set in, rubbing your hands together will do more harm than good.
Frostbite is when ice crystals form in your tissues, so it is important that you refrain from rubbing your hands, feet, or any body part, for that matter.
Instead, get out of the cold, rewarm frostbitten areas with warm—not hot—water, take pain medication, and drink warm liquids.
Prioritizing a Big Fire Over Shelter
Yes, a fire will keep you warm. However, it doesn’t mean that you should avoid building a shelter. A shelter will protect you from rain, wind, and animals, so for the best chance of survival, build both a shelter and a fire.
Suck the Venom Out of a Snakebite
If you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time and get bitten by a snake, the worst thing you could do is suck out the venom—along with slashing the wound, applying a tourniquet, or applying ice.
Sucking, slashing, or cutting off blood supply to the bite could potentially damage your nerves and your blood vessels, leading to infection. All poisonous snake bites require antivenom and emergency treatment. Snake bite symptoms usually set in within 30 minutes, but as long as you reach a medical center within a few hours, your chances of survival are extremely high.
If a Shark Attacks You, Punch it in the Nose
You’ve probably heard time and time again that if a shark attacks you, all you need to do is punch it in the nose. Although that method can sometimes work, it is incredibly difficult to physically punch a shark in the nose while you’re underwater.
Instead, try and put an object like a surfboard, fishing equipment, or dive gear between you and the shark. But if you don’t have anything on hand, poke the shark as hard as you can in the eye.
Remember throughout the whole process to stay calm—as calm as you can when being attacked by a shark—and avoid making any sudden movements.
Swim Against a Rip Current
Rip currents happen at beaches all over the world, and from the shore, they seem somewhat harmless. People often voluntarily swim into rip currents as they’re flat spots in a line of breaking waves. However, rip currents can be deadly, especially for weak swimmers or those who don’t know how to get out of one.
If you do ever find yourself caught in a rip current, the best thing to do is call for help, stay calm, and float. Rip currents will never take you underwater—just away from the shore—and they do eventually end, giving you the opportunity to swim parallel to the shore into waters where waves are breaking. Swimming directly against the rip current back to shore will tire you out, eventually causing you to drown.
Let Hypothemia Victims Sleep
Hypothermia victims will inevitably become drowsy, but the worst thing you can do is let them fall asleep. When we are asleep, our bodies consume less energy, so if a hypothermia victim were to fall asleep, it could result in them freezing and dying. Instead, get the hypothermia victim to increase blood circulation by moving their arms and legs while you gradually warm them up.
Drink Your Own Pee to Stay Hydrated
Many of those survival experts on TV say that if you’re dehydrated, you can drink your own urine. However, this myth actually has the opposite effect. Drinking your own urine will dehydrate you at a much faster rate. And as your urine is your body’s way of getting rid of liquid your body can’t use/need, why would you want to drink it?
Drink the Fluids of a Cactus
It’s understandable that your first thought when getting stranded in the desert with no water would be to cut open a cactus and drink its contents. After all, cactus’ are made up of 90% water.
However, the water inside cactus plants is actually very acidic and can contain toxic alkaloids, which can make you sick—putting you in a worse position than when you started.
Running Water Is Safe to Drink
Running water isn’t always a sign that it’s safe to drink, as the water can contain heavy metals, pathogens, and contaminants that can make you sick. If you ever find water out in the wild, you should always filter, boil, and purify it before drinking it.
Build a Fire in a Cave for Warmth
Building a fire at the mouth of the cave provides you with a heat source. But building a fire inside a cave puts you at risk of smoke inhalation and suffocation. Position the fire as close to the cave mouth as possible so the smoke can escape into the open air.
Play Dead if You’re Attacked by a Bear
If you’re being attacked by a grizzly bear—a brown bear with large claws and small ears—then playing dead can potentially save your life. But if you’re being attacked by a black bear, you’re better off making yourself as big as you possibly can, waving your arms in the air, and making loud noises to scare the bear off.
You’ll Never Get Lost With a GPS
A GPS is a handy tool that can help you navigate the great outdoors. However, you shouldn’t solely rely on it for navigation. GPS can break, run out of battery, or you could misplace it while you’re out on your trip. And if you lose your GPS, you really will be screwed.
Always pack a map and a compass—and know how to use them—just in case something does happen to your GPS. That way, you can find your way back to safety.
You Can Eat Anything Animals Eat
Many animals have adapted to consume and digest foods that are toxic and harmful to other animals and humans. For this reason, you shouldn’t rely on watching what an animal eats and then eating it yourself.
At the end of the day, if you have a constant supply of water, you can survive for up to two months without food. So it’s best to go hungry if the other option is eating foods that animals around you are eating.
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