September 30, 2023

5 Common Survival Myths That Can Get You Killed In The Wilderness

Animation of a person playing dead with a black bear.

Never play dead with a black bear.Insider

  • There are many survival myths that can hurt you, or even worse, kill you.

  • Some of the most common include sucking venom from a wound and punching sharks in the nose.

  • The best thing to do before venturing into the wild is to pack up and prepare in advance.

This article is primarily a transcription of a 2017 Insider video on “5 Survival Myths That Can Kill You.” Some of the information has been updated.

Being outside this summer is great for your mental and physical health, but spending time in the wilderness can come with risks.

According to an analysis by personal injury lawyers group Panish Shea & Boyle, 2,727 people died while visiting a US national park between 2007 and 2018.

The majority of deaths were due to drowning or car accidents, while the minority resulted from poisoning or animal encounters.

That said, whether you’re glamping or backpacking, it’s important to be prepared when venturing into the backcountry anywhere in the world.

To that end, here are five survival myths and tips to keep in mind if you find yourself coming face to face with snakes, bears, sharks, or if you get lost in the great outdoors.

Myth 1: You can suck the venom out of a snakebite.

Animation of a snake about to bite a human's hand.

Also, don’t try to pick up or follow the snake if it bites you.Insider

A bite from a venomous snake or other animal can deliver that venom directly into the bloodstream. If you try to suck it out, poison can go into the mouth. It can also further infect the wound.

Other things not to do if you or a friend have been bitten by a snake are not to apply a tourniquet, not to make the wound worse by cutting it open with a knife, and not to try to pick up the snake or to lure into a trap. , according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Instead, keep the limb below or close to heart level, according to Mayo Clinic advice. This can prevent the poison from reaching your heart and stopping it.

Myth 2: Always play dead when confronting a bear.

Animation of a hiker encountering a grizzly bear.

If you encounter a grizzly bear, play dead until the animal leaves the area.Insider

Playing dead only works in some situations with certain types of bears.

For example, if a black bear attacks, do so not play dead, according to the National Park Service. Instead, try to escape or – if that’s not an option – fight back by aiming your blows and kicks at the bear’s face and muzzle.

Bear spray can also help.

If you encounter a brown or grizzly bear and it charges at you: Lie on your stomach with your hands clasped behind your neck, the NPS advises. Stand
still until the bear leaves. But if the bear continues to attack you, fight back with whatever is available.

Myth 3: If you’re lost in the wild, immediately find a food supply.

Animation of a hiker encountering water and shelter.

Water and shelter are much more important than food if you just got lost.Insider

Depending on body composition, a healthy person can go without food for about six weeks.

However, you won’t last as long if you don’t have water and shelter. In fact, a human can only survive two to four days without water.

That’s why it’s critical that if you find yourself lost, find water and shelter before attempting to explore a food source. The effects of dehydration occur much earlier than hunger.

Myth 4: Moss always grows on the north side of a tree.

Animation of a tree with moss on one side.

Don’t use moss to try to find your way out of the woods.Insider

Moss grows on almost any hard surface where conditions are damp and cool.

The north side of trees is less likely to receive direct sunlight, so moss will usually grow here. But in the forest, trees can be shaded from any direction.

So if you’re trying to get a sense of direction in the woods, don’t use moss as a guiding pole star.

Instead, it’s best to prepare in advance and bring a compass and a map of the terrain.

If you haven’t prepared, you can try making your own compass or using the sun and stars for navigation.

Myth 5: If a shark attacks you, punch it in the nose.

Animation of a shark looking straight at you.

If a shark attacks you, hurt it! Aim for his soft, sensitive eyes and gills.Insider

Landing a solid punch underwater is difficult and not a good idea either.

Sharks tend to attack by approaching from the bottom up, Navy Seal Clint Emerson explained in another video.

That’s why Emerson recommends always keeping an eye on the shark. When he latches on, you have to poke and claw at his eyes and gills because you want to cause him as much pain and discomfort as possible so he lets go and you can swim to safety, Emerson said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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