People Are Sharing Survival Tips That Are Not Only False, But Could Really Harm Us

Common Survival Myths

Survival tactics seem to be everywhere and they can be really handy if you find yourself in a dangerous situation. That is, they can help you if you know the right ones. Unfortunately, there are a lot of survival myths out there that muddy the waters and make things confusing.

Clean Water

This one isn’t a perpetuated myth as much as a misconception about what clean is. It’s true, clean water does look clean. The only problem is that dirty water can look clean, too.

Clean Water

This means that you should just trust your eyes when it comes to distilling water but rely on tried-and-true methods to get your water really clean. This includes things like boiling or filtering your water that will help rid it of what you can’t see, like bacteria that will make you sick.

Start With Shelter

We’ve all heard how important food and water are. So, many people probably assume that those are great places to start when you need to survive. In reality, this foregoes another important basic need — shelter!

Start With Shelter

Before anything else, you need to make sure you can protect yourself from the elements. This means creating a place where you can go to stay dry and warm as the weather changes or night falls and the temperature drops.

Not a Good Tactic

We’ve all seen a wilderness show or video with the shock factor of someone drinking their own pee. In real life, would the tactic work? As gross as it is, would it be worth it?

Not a Good Tactic

Well, maybe not. After all, if you’re already dehydrated enough that you’re considering it, your body isn’t going to magically produce fresh water. You’re more likely to only dehydrate yourself further by turning your pee into a refreshment.

Staying Rational

When it comes to food and water, you probably already know that you can go longer without food than without water.

Staying Rational

Still, don’t overestimate this and think you can make it without food at all. Technically, you could but it would sap so much of your energy, that it would make any survival skills you have hard to carry out. So, while you should definitely seek water first, don’t forget about food altogether.

Reading the Moss

There’s a concept that moss only grows on the north side of a tree. So, you can use it to tell the way without a map or compass.

Reading the Moss

Moss actually forms wherever is opportune, and you’ll often see it on more than one side of a tree — making this natural “indicator” of direction fairly useless. It’s better to turn to more reliable options, like keeping a compass handy or learning other natural navigation methods.

Tornado Safety

This Redditor was specifically referencing a video of people using an overpass for protection during a tornado. The takeaway here is not that overpasses are safe. Rather, it was that specific overpass that provided protection.

Tornado Safety

If you tried the same thing in most other overpasses, you’re just putting yourself in an even more dangerous situation. Some survival solutions are genuinely situation-specific and this tornado situation partly came down to luck rather than a tried-and-true rule.

Not the Same

Some people say that if you find yourself lost in the wild, you should look to what the animals eat for food. This is bad advice. Human biology is not the same as every other animal.

Not the Same

As a result, some animals can eat things that humans just can’t process. So, if you were to try to eat everything a wild animal eats, you’d probably find yourself in even more trouble pretty fast.

More Than Just Looks

Speaking of finding food, trying to identify food is only really a good idea for professionals. Even then, things can go wrong. This is because wild plants aren’t always easy to identify on sight.

More Than Just Looks

Even if you’re familiar with different plants’ features, a lot of them look alike! Even foods you might be familiar with in your everyday life may have different effects when you find them in the wild.

On Open Windows

Tornado safety is important to know because you often have a relatively small window to get ready once one touches down. If you hear a warning, what do you do?

On Open Windows

Well, one thing you shouldn’t do is open all of your windows. The myth comes from the concept that doing so might equalize the pressure but it doesn’t. Instead, you’re more likely to create an even more disastrous effect by opening all your windows.

Underwater Cars

It’s a pretty scary scenario to think about, a car sinking in a body of water. What do you do if this happens? What you shouldn’t do is wait until your car is completely submerged to open your windows.

Underwater Cars

Don’t wait at all! If you’re panicking because your car is sinking, this person has a point — it’s going to be pretty hard to hold your breath. The latter is really only your best route if it’s your last choice.

Better Prepared

We all know to be well-prepared if we’re going out for a long trek. Still, some start out on day trips and cut corners.

Better Prepared

The truth is, you don’t know when you’re going to need your gear and it could be only after a few hours. So, even if you’re only setting out on a day hike or just camping for the night, you won’t want to skip the proper preparedness.

Breaking Your Fall

An old myth says that if you find yourself in a crashing plane, you can use an inflatable raft as a parachute. You actually can’t. There was no one better to test this myth than the Mythbusters themselves.

Breaking Your Fall

They found that the myth wasn’t as handy in a survival situation as you might think. If you find yourself in a plane crash or falling from a great height, a raft might not be the best choice for a makeshift parachute. It seems pretty hard to hold onto as well!

Stay in Place

If you find yourself suddenly in a scary situation, you might think moving to find resources is the best way to be proactive.

Stay in Place

However, in some situations wandering away can give you more trouble than it helps you get out of. It makes sense — you’re easier to find if you’re still in your car. The more you can do to enhance your visibility, the better chance you have of being found as well.

Drinking From a Cactus

There are few environments where dehydration is quite as much of a risk as it is in the desert. Where are you going to find water? Technically, you could find water in a cactus but, in most cases, you shouldn’t drink it.

Drinking From a Cactus

Once again, you probably aren’t looking at clean water and you could invite a lot of trouble by tasting out different plants, including more severe dehydration.

Water and a Little Physics

Say you need to jump from a high place and need somewhere to land. Your first instinct might be to land in the water.

Water and a Little Physics

After all, it would seem like water would have some give to it. From a certain height, though, this just isn’t the case. At some point, jumping from high enough into a body of water isn’t going to help you much more than falling on the ground.

Off the Ground

Earlier, we took a look at how important finding shelter is. That doesn’t just mean that you should just focus on building walls either.

Off the Ground

The real priority here is making sure you aren’t laying directly on the ground. This is especially true if you’re in a cold or rainy environment where you’re likely to lose heat faster when you’re laying directly on the cold ground. Plus, it’ll probably make your night more comfortable.

Rationing Water

When you have a limited supply of something, it seems like the wisest thing to do is to ration it. This isn’t the case with all of your supplies.

Rationing Water

For example, you don’t want to ration your water. Drinking a little bit of water at a time and ignoring thirst isn’t the way to stay ahead of dehydration. It’s better to stay hydrated and keep searching for more water to replenish your supply.

Stay Warm!

We’ve all been there at the bus stop or walking a few blocks and your hands feel freezing. What do you do? Usually, breathe into them for a little warmth.

Stay Warm!

This warmth isn’t enough to keep your hands safe during a survival situation, though. On the contrary, you’re better off using the warmth in your armpits to keep your digits from freezing, as that’ll actually help with your overall body temperature.

A Little Chilly

Finding water in a frozen environment seems easier than in the desert. After all, snow is just frozen water, right? Well, not exactly. If you were just worried about dehydration, technically this could work.

A Little Chilly

Since you’re in a cold survival environment, though, you probably want to keep warm too. Eating snow might give you some water but it won’t help you fight off freezing temperatures. The refreshing taste will only further bring your body temperature down.

Escaping Alligators

We hope that no one finds themselves chased by an alligator. If you do, though, you might want to ignore this popular myth. You can try running in a zig-zag pattern from alligators but it’s not really going to help.

Escaping Alligators

What it will do, though, is wear you out pretty quickly. They’re just going to follow you — maybe even skipping the erratic pattern. Plus, as this Redditor reminds us, they’re not too bad at climbing either.

Don’t Hyperventilate!

Before you’re submerged underwater, you want to make sure you capture plenty of air in your lungs. Unlike a fish, you won’t survive otherwise. Doing so through hyperventilating is a surefire way to disaster, however.

Don’t Hyperventilate!

While you might capture a lot of air in your lungs, you’re going to have a harder time staying conscious. Taking a deep breath will go much further in helping increase your chances of survival.

Jellyfish Stings

This one might not count purely as survival but it can help when a day at the beach takes an unfortunate turn. The myth goes that peeing on a jellyfish sting will help out.

Jellyfish Stings

In reality, it’s just going to cover you in pee and maybe even increase the chances of confusion. A wrap with warm water is an easier — and cleaner — way to take care of a jellyfish sting before you get it treated.

Follow the Path

When you go out on a hike or walk, you’ve probably been warned to stay on the path. This isn’t just to protect the foliage either. Even if you’re near a path, you can still get lost.

Follow the Path

If you’re following a path through the woods, it’s best to stay on the path. If you have to step off, always keep the path in sight. It’s easier to get lost than you think and paths can only help if you use them!

Following Birds

There’s an old saying that if you’re trying to find drinkable water, you should follow birds. They’ll lead you to where you need to go! The bad news is that they actually won’t.

Following Birds

Just like any other animal, birds do a lot throughout the day. They aren’t always heading to fresh water. So, if you follow them, you might just find yourself lost further or even just at the tree they live in.

Not Enough

This tip seems like a survival tip that you’re more likely to use in your daily life. After all, you don’t have to be lost in the woods for this one.

Not Enough

Some severe allergies call for the use of an epi-pen to prevent anaphylactic reactions. Still, it’s not over the minute the person uses an epi-pen. You should still make sure they go to a doctor afterward to get checked out.

Winter Survival

This person was here to warn about the dangers of two common fabrics — cotton and down — during a survival situation.

Winter Survival

The main problem here is that if cotton gets wet, it stays wet, and it’s not going to do much to keep you warm. This isn’t just a problem in wet environments. After all, you can start sweating just about anywhere and cotton or down will retain that moisture.

Dressing for the Desert

Like most people, you might think of the desert and immediately think of the sweltering heat. That’s only part of the equation, though.

Dressing for the Desert

Yes, during the day, you’re going to experience high temperatures. On the other hand, the temperature tends to drop drastically in the desert at night. This means if you show up in shorts and a tank top, the night isn’t going to pass easily or warmly.

Falling Elevators

It seems like a scenario from a horror movie to be trapped in a falling elevator. However, it’s good to know what to do.

Falling Elevators

A lot of people say that you should jump before the elevator hits the ground. Yet, this isn’t going to help and puts all of the force of the impact on your legs. Not to mention, if you jump too high, you might miss hitting the floor only to knock your head on the ceiling.

Carefully Choose Your First-Aid Kit

It’s fairly common knowledge that you should keep a first-aid kit handy. Yet, the contents matter a lot, as well as having one at all.

Carefully Choose Your First-Aid Kit

For one, the first-aid kit you buy at the store doesn’t always have everything you need. So, it’s a good idea to make sure your kit is well-prepared. On top of that, you should really make sure you know how to use everything you have on hand.

Voicemail Tips

You may have heard the advice that if you’re lost, you should change your voicemail to let people know where you are. This would work if it didn’t take a signal to change your voicemail.

Voicemail Tips

If you have a moment of signal, there are many more helpful things to do like call for help. Even a text you keep trying to resend would likely reach someone faster than they happened to hear your voicemail.

Sinking Ships

If you watch Mythbusters, you might remember an episode where they proved a myth false about sinking ships.

Sinking Ships

The only problem was that they tested it on a small ship, in which case, you’d probably be fine. If you tried the same thing on a larger ship, though, their mass is likely to cause problems that include far more than just sucking you in. All in all, it’s best to stay away.

Get in the Doorway!

Earthquakes are no joke and, in certain parts of the world, much more prevalent. If you live somewhere like California or Japan, you’ll have to worry more than somewhere not on a fault line.

Get in the Doorway!

So, if you live somewhere on a fault line, it’s important to know what to do. Despite what you might hear, a doorway actually isn’t the best place to be during an earthquake. Try taking cover under something like a table instead.

Fire Safety

Another natural disaster that happens more in some places compared to others is wildfires. This is another case where it’s good to know what to do.

Fire Safety

Some say letting the fire pass over you is best but there’s a big problem with this myth. Fire doesn’t just consume the visible fuel you see but the oxygen around it, too. In other words, you wouldn’t have a lot of air to push you through this waiting period.

Not a Good Approach

We’ve all seen action heroes try this one out. Need to make it through a big fall? Just make a simple harness with a rope.

Not a Good Approach

The only problem is that harnesses don’t usually have one band of contact or go around your waist specifically. Try this one out and while you might not hit the ground, you’ll definitely find yourself in a painful position that isn’t much better.

Lightning Strikes Twice

It’s almost a cliché at this point to say lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice. Yet, that isn’t quite true. When lightning strikes, it’s not unlikely that it might strike the same place twice.

Lightning Strikes Twice

As this Redditor highlights, if this myth was true, the lightning rod on your house wouldn’t actually do much. At the very least, it wouldn’t do much after the first time it was struck if lightning never struck twice.

Placement Is Everything

We’ve already covered how important water is. As such, it’s tempting to find water and stay near it when you’re ready to make camp. First of all, this tactic puts you at a greater risk of flooding.

Placement Is Everything

Even worse, you probably aren’t the only living creature who needs water. So, staying near a water source is a surefire way to run into the wildlife that you’d be better off avoiding.

Herbivores vs. Predators

There’s a general concept that if an animal isn’t a predator, it isn’t as dangerous. However, “herbivore” is definitely not a synonym for “docile.”

Herbivores vs. Predators

Given that these animals are prey, they’re apt to feel threatened much easier. Especially if an herbivore is taking an aggressive stance, it feels threatened by you. Once again, the wildlife in a survival situation isn’t as friendly as your pet back home.

Treating Frostbite

Frostbite is more than just cold fingers. It’s a condition that can lead to real and permanent damage if you don’t treat it correctly.

Treating Frostbite

If you’re trying to help a frostbitten friend, don’t try to rub their skin to create warmth. That friction will do more harm than good and you’re likely to cause further injury. Rather, it’s a better idea to warm them up with a bit of warm water.

On Hypothermia

Hypothermia, like frostbite, is a condition brought on by the cold. You can’t treat it like any other time you feel a bit chilly. There’s a myth that booze, when ingested, helps to fight off the cold.

On Hypothermia

The truth is that you’re more likely to get hypothermia sooner by following this myth than you are to stave it off until you can get out of the cold. It’d be helpful if it worked but it isn’t going to solve the problem.

On Puncture Wounds

Stab wounds, as the name suggests, aren’t usually anything to forget about. If you find yourself with a branch or other object in a puncture wound, take a second.

On Puncture Wounds

Your first instinct might be to pull the item out. However, that’s only going to lead to a lot of bleeding. As weird as it may sound, it’s a good idea to hold off before you pull the item out until you can get medical attention.

Stay Quiet

It’s such a myth at this point that you can catch it in cartoons as well. Yell — and it triggers an avalanche! The reality is that a loud sound probably isn’t going to trigger an avalanche.

Stay Quiet

However, if you’re going somewhere or if you live somewhere where avalanches are a risk, it’s best to know what the real signs of an avalanche are. Loud sounds probably won’t cause a disaster, though.

Invest in a Map!

We can see where this myth came from. After all, with your phone in your pocket, you do practically have a map of anywhere at your fingertips!

Invest in a Map!

That is, as long as your phone is actually working and has a signal. Sadly, this isn’t always the case when you’re talking about a survival situation. So, when you go camping or hiking, it’s worth it to have a map and compass handy.

Don’t Look Cool

This is a pretty important one. The way survival is portrayed in movies and TV isn’t usually super accurate. This is because a part of movies and TV is trying to look cool.

Don’t Look Cool

In reality, survival isn’t really about how you look and you’re better playing it safe than trying to show off how “cool” you can look while you do it. You don’t need to focus on looking like Rambo in a survival situation.

This Advice

There are some pieces of advice so bad that they sound concerning the moment you hear them. This one definitely counts.

This Advice

First of all, you shouldn’t really drive without headlights when you’re visibility is limited. On top of that, we’re not sure it would help you from getting hit if the other drivers on the road can’t even tell you’re there, to begin with.

Dealing With Snakebites

If you’re a fan of adventure movies, you’ve probably seen someone get bit by a snake only for another character to come suck the poison out.

Dealing With Snakebites

This is another myth that wouldn’t work if you tried it in real life. In reality, the best thing you can do is head to a hospital where they’ll be able to treat you. Until then, keep it elevated — and no matter what — don’t put your mouth on the wound.