How to Survive in the Wild: Survival Myths Debunked

If you’re a survivalist junkie like us, you’ve probably seen shows like Survivor Man or Man vs. Wild and raved about the survival hacks you’ve learned from plopping down in front of the TV, watching Les Stroud build a shelter out of sticks. You’re probably also familiar with Bear Grylls’ claim that drinking your own urine is a surefire way to stay hydrated—but did you know that might not actually be the best idea? If you’re dehydrated, drinking your own urine will only make you more dehydrated because of the high salt content in your fluids. At Prepper’s Base, we want you to be prepared in case of an emergency, so we’ve decided to debunk 9 common survival myths to help you stay safe in case of a dangerous situation.

surviving in the outdoors


    • The Myth: Suck the venom from a wound if you get bit by a snake.

The Real Deal: This is a very, very bad idea. It’s likely that some of the venom from the snake also got on your skin, which means putting your mouth over the wound can allow the venom to damage your lips, trachea, windpipe, and even stomach. Don’t try this method unless it’s an absolute last resort. Instead, head over to a hospital as quickly as possible


  • The Myth: You can outrun a bear.

close up of a brown bearThe Real Deal: It doesn’t matter if you were the fastest kid on your track team in high school or if you run a 4-minute mile—you will not be able to outrun a bear. Instead, learn to recognize different types of bears. If you spot a black bear, make yourself look as big and as intimidating as possible. Make a lot of noise and wave your arms around. It’s likely that you’ll scare the bear off. But, if you encounter a grizzly bear, remain very still and quiet, and don’t make eye contact. Then, back away very, very slowly. If it charges, stay still. Use pepper spray, if you have it. And, on the chance that it does attack you, play dead and protect your vitals.


  • The Myth: If a shark is attacking you, punch it in the nose.

The Real Deal: Do you remember when you were younger and you would try to see if you could run in the pool? But no matter how hard you tried, a glacial pace was all you could muster. Now think about trying to punch a shark in the face while you’re in the water. It’s very unlikely that you’d be able to punch the shark hard enough to shock it, simply because the water would slow you down too much. Instead, try to claw at the shark’s eyes or gills. The shark will probably give up to protect its eyesight and means of breathing, and will most likely leave to find an easier prey. More often than not, the shark just wants a meal, not a fight.


  • The Myth: If you’re stranded in the desert, you can drink out of a cactus.

cactusThe Real Deal: Drinking out of a cactus can actually make you really sick. The liquid inside the cactus isn’t actually pure water, like most people assume. Instead, it’s a noxious fluid. Instead of rehydrating, you’ll make yourself sick to the point of vomiting, which will make you even more dehydrated than you were before.There’s only one specific type of cactus that is safe to drink from, so it’s better to be safe than sorry and avoid it all together.



  • The Myth: Rationing your water in the desert will help you survive longer.

The Real Deal: If you’re stranded in the desert with a limited water supply, the best tactic is to find a shady spot (if you can), drink enough water to become reasonably hydrated, and exert as little energy as possible. Walking around in the heat while rationing your water is dangerous, and you should save any physical exertion for after dark when the temperatures have cooled down.


  • The Myth: Above all else, find food.

The Real Deal: Food is not the biggest priority. Humans can survive for up to six weeks without it. It’s more important to find water and shelter because dehydration and hypothermia will kill you much faster than starvation will. Conversely, don’t over-exert yourself trying to find water or shelter. Save your energy as much as possible.


  • The Myth: As long as water has been boiled, it is safe to drink.

The Real Deal: Boiling water won’t clean out chemicals or dirt particles from stagnant water. If the water looks murky, filter it first by pouring it through a clean cloth and then, after you pour the clean water from the top, you can boil it.


  • The Myth: Eating snow will keep you hydrated.

snowThe Real Deal: Since snow is very cold, it can decrease your internal temperature and speed up hypothermia. It’s best to melt the snow and heat it up first.



  • The Myth: The most important part of building a shelter is the roof.

The Real Deal: Having a roof over your head won’t do you any good if you’re sleeping on the cold, hard ground. This can make you freeze to death. Start by making an insulated bed to help keep you warm, and build a roof afterwards if you have enough time.


Learning correct survival tips can help you make safe and smart decisions if you ever find yourself in a dangerous situation. Check out Prepper’s Base for more great survivalist tips, tricks, and products.

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