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If You Believe these Survival Myths, it Could End Your Life
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Myth: Reporting A Missing Person After 48 Hours

  • Survival Situation: Person Lost

It has been widely referenced by Hollywood that a person can only be reported as missing after they have been gone for 48 hours. However, it is one of the biggest myths overall, not just among survival myths. Apparently, this was something police stations installed for specific situations and was then reported as universal for all missing person cases. In fact, it almost always is exclusive to adult missing person cases only. However, even then it is not universal for all cases. For all lost child cases, there is no such rule.

Police actually tell you to report a lost child as soon as you discover that they are lost. In fact, not doing so can make someone look potentially guilty for the child’s disappearance. Some people have actually been brought up on charges in the past because they failed to report their child as missing immediately. This is one of the biggest survival myths out there, as the sooner a missing person case is filed, the faster they could possibly be found. More importantly, the sooner it is reported, the higher chance the person is found alive.

If You Believe these Survival Myths, it Could End Your Life
[Image via Margarita Alshina/Associated Press]

Myth: Drinking/Eating Snow and Rain

  • Survival Situation: Dehydration

It should be noted that the reasoning for not drinking rainwater and/or drinking/eating snow is similar but not completely. When it comes to rainwater, it should be noted that if any rainwater is going to be consumed, it needs to be collected at the time of the rain and not afterward in another location. Yet depending on where you are, the rainwater could be contaminated due to the environment. In both Russia and China, the environment is often subpar as corporations put horrible chemicals into the air. That goes into the clouds and thus, the rainwater too. Therefore, it could contain harmful pathogens, parasites, bacteria, acids, and even viruses.

This is less common in North America but rainwater is still somewhat acidic. The same issue is present for snowfall too, as the location can lead to problems. Yet snow can also dehydrate you too, but how is that the case? Unlike rainwater, snow has to be melted and turned into a liquid inside your body once you consume it. If you’re already dehydrated or in hypothermic conditions, your body might struggle with it as you might not contain enough energy to heat up the snow. Thus causing you to digest the snow but never benefit from its hydration. If you are going to utilize snow, do it as early as possible and/or try to boil it.

If You Believe these Survival Myths, it Could End Your Life
[Image via Kristi Blokhin/Shutterstock.com]

Myth: Follow Birds and You’ll Find Water

  • Survival Situation: Lost & Dehydrated

Birds can be quite helpful, and sailers will tell you that if you see them, then it’s a safe bet you’re relatively close to land. Birds do not travel too far away from land that they cannot get back without getting too tired. Even for birds that fly south for the winter, they do so mostly over land or close to it. While they can be useful here, birds are not very reliable when it comes to finding water. This is one of the big survival myths that likely got lost in translation or we misremembered by assuming “water” when we meant “land.”

The myth usually surrounds watching for specific aquatic birds, which most people might not recognize. Even if they do, the myth often does not revolve around a specific bird type. It is true that some aquatic birds rarely leave the water’s edge, so if you see them, it is likely you’re close to water. However, if you actually get that close then you’d likely hear the water before then. Geese among other birds might fly toward water sources in the evening. Yet that is not always the case, and you might follow birds into a giant clearing. Far from any water source. Now you’re tired, spent up precious energy, and all for nothing.

If You Believe these Survival Myths, it Could End Your Life
[Image via Carolyn Franks/Shutterstock.com]

Myth: Boiled Water Is Safe To Drink

  • Survival Situation: Water-Based Illnesses

We want to make this very clear: you should boil most water that you collect, even if you assume it might be okay. Boiling it really does help to remove several harmful substances, such as bacteria that could give you things like cholera and dysentery. Even Typhoid can spread in a lot of water territories. However, boiling your water does not automatically make it “completely” safe to drink. Rather, it makes it “safer” to drink. There could likely still be a lot of issues with the water. Remember when we referenced how rain and snow could possibly be contaminated due to the environment they are in?

While some of this can be removed by boiling the two, it might not completely remove everything within the chemical listing inside the liquid. It should be noted that if water is contaminated with things like oil or radioactive material, boiling it will not make it safe. These two things will remain in the water, and could potentially cause some interesting interactions with your fire. On top of this, several other toxic chemicals will not go away from boiling either. This is why you should always try to avoid using water from areas anywhere close to waste or chemical run-offs. As that water will most certainly be unsafe to drink.

If You Believe these Survival Myths, it Could End Your Life
[Image via Sandyman/Shutterstock.com]

Myth: You Should Ration Food and Water

  • Survival Situation: Lost

To be clear, if there are several people involved here, then you DO need to ration the supplies equally as best you can. At least until it becomes obvious one member is unable to carry on. However, as long as things are equally rationed, you should eat or drink as much as you’d like. There is actually no evidence that proves self-rationing helps people in survival situations, making it one of the biggest survival myths around. In fact, there are more cases of just the opposite actually. But wait, just chugging a bunch of water on your first day of survival? Does that not seem reckless and potentially problematic? Many assume that, but it’s not true.

You should hydrate your body as often as you can, whenever you can do so in a survival situation. By properly hydrating, your body will have most of its proper faculties and you’ll make far more “good” choices as opposed to bad ones. Among the first things to go is your decision-making and physical abilities when you’re reaching dehydration. The first choices you make in survival situations are so crucial, and some do not realize that. This is why many people found dead after being lost for a while tend to have one or more relatively full water bottles and even food on them. They were rationing unnecessarily, leading to the end of their life.

If You Believe these Survival Myths, it Could End Your Life
[Image via Discovery Communications]

Myth: Drinking Urine

  • Survival Situation: Dehydration

This should be obvious and we cannot believe we have to say it but do not drink urine. We cannot believe we’re actually having to write that in 2022, but you’d be surprised by how many people believe this is a good idea. In fact, there have been cases of amateur survivalists or campers going right for drinking their own urine before even searching for water first. How did this become such a popular concept? Originally, there were several military survival experts who taught this as a last resort method. If you were going to be getting out of a location and you knew that, you could technically drink your own urine to get an extra hydration boost.

The idea is that issues from urine would not happen immediately, so you could utilize the water portion of it. Then after you’re out, you can deal with the repercussions later. If your urine is very clear, then at best you’re getting 90% water and 10% waste. However, the darker your urine happens to be, the more waste is in it. If it’s really dark, always avoid it. Membrane distillation can allow you to remove 95% of bad urine waste, as distilling helps get only the water out of the urine. But drinking urine can still be problematic. Typhoid is spread through urine consumption along with urinary schistosomiasis, both of which can be life-threatening illnesses. We do not have to tell you that this goes against the whole “survival” thing.

Where do we Find this Stuff? Here are Our Sources:

United States National Parks Service (NPS)

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)

National Institutes of Health

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Association (NOAA)

United Kingdom Redcross

Mayo Clinic

New York Times

Discovery Communications

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