Myth debunked: Hazardous survival myths
There are several misconceptions about specific survival situations, some of which have been articulated for decades and ingrained in our culture.
Although it can be difficult to discriminate between facts and myths, it is possible, through well-designed research studies and appropriate statistical analysis, to confirm facts and debunk myths.
These are some misconceptions related to survival:
One of the popular myths recommends drinking your urine if you are lost in a desert. Urine is full of sodium and impurities, and if it doesn’t make you vomit, it will surely increase the risk of diarrhoea and more dehydration.
Another myth recommends sucking out poison after being bitten by a venomous snake. By biting and sucking out the poison you would be increasing the risk of infection and poisoning your mouth.
Another myth is that a weapon is the best survival tool if you get lost in the wilderness. In such conditions most people die of hypothermia and dehydration rather than due to predators. So it is more important to wear proper clothing and have sufficient water supply when travelling in wild territory.
Another myth recommends eating snow to quench your thirst when travelling across a frozen landscape. Eating snow drastically reduces your body temperature and it only contains 10 per cent water, while the rest is air. It would be better to carry sufficient fuel to melt some ice for drinking water.
Another myth recommends finding shelter in a cave and lighting a fire to keep yourself warm if you get lost in a cold, desolate region. By lighting a fire in an enclosed space you risk inhaling a dangerous level of carbon monoxide. This odourless gas would replace the oxygen in your red blood cells, which would lull you to sleep and kill you.