Bad Survival Tips That Can Actually Hurt You – Or Much Worse

By Todd Neikirk
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Bad Survival Tips That Can Actually Hurt You – Or Much Worse

Todd Neikirk
 
Image via Aral/Wikimedia Commons
Image via Aral/Wikimedia Commons
 
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Many people have a plan for how they would handle things if they ever got lost or stranded in the outdoors. Many of those plans were determined after watching TV shows or reading articles online. It turns out, however, that a lot of survival tips people may have learned over the years are completely wrong. Below are some dangerous actions you have been told to take that could end up with tragic results.

You can cut open a snakebite and suck the venom out

Never attempt to suck the venom out of a snakebite
Never attempt to suck the venom out of a snakebite (Image via Tony Alter/Wikimedia Commons)

In many movies, a character gets bit by a poisonous snake. They don’t panic, though, instead, they cut a notch into the snake bite and suck out the poison. Problem solved, right?

This is actually a terrible idea. Once the snake has bitten a person, the venom is already in their lymphatic system. Making the wound larger also opens up the body to infection. And the saliva from the person’s mouth is full of bacteria which can make the situation worse.

A cave is a good place to build a fire

A cave fire is not necessarily the best idea
A cave fire is not necessarily the best idea (Image via 月亮灣/Wikimedia Commons)

The idea of making a fire in a cave seems sound. Caves provide shelter and it is easy to build a fire because you are protected from the elements. The cave also secures you from outside predators.

But building the fire while enclosed in rock could actually be a terrible idea. The heat from the fire could cause the rocks to expand. This rock expansion could force the rocks to break and potentially cause a cave-in.

It’s simple to rub two sticks together and make a fire

Everyone knows that a fire can be made by rubbing two sticks together. People in movies do it all of the time. So people who may be stranded somewhere or simply cold, think this could be an easy task.

But easy it is not. Starting a fire with two simple sticks is not all that easy. Most people who can do it have spent lots of time practicing. The practice also takes patience and the right type of materials.

You can survive by drinking your own pee

People should make sure not to drink their own urine while dehydrated
People should make sure not to drink their own urine while dehydrated (Image via NPS/Neal Herbert/Wikimedia Commons)

This is another tip that people may have seen in a movie or television show. When you’re out of any kind of water source, one might survive by drinking their own urine.

People, of course, can drink their urine and not get sick. That only stands, however, if the person isn’t dehydrated, to begin with. If a person is already dehydrated, as someone considering drinking their pee is likely to be, then they should avoid reintroducing the substance into their body.

There is a use for urine, though, if a person is stranded somewhere. The urine can be used to dampen clothing and therefore make for a cooler living situation in the short term.

Drinking liquor in cold weather could help to warm you up

A glass of brandy may help you feel warm inside, but it could be deadly in cold situations
A glass of brandy may help you feel warm inside, but it could be deadly in cold situations (Image via Jazz Guy/Wikimedia Commons)

When people take a sip of scotch or brandy, they immediately feel a warming sensation throughout their body. So some might feel that a sip of booze could help warm them when in a cold survival situation.

The problem is that liquor does the exact opposite. The booze works to dilate your blood vessels and capillaries which means that you will get colder quicker.

Space blankets are too thin to do much good

While incredibly thin, space blankets can be a major asset in cold weather
While incredibly thin, space blankets can be a major asset in cold weather (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

When people think about how to best stay warm, they would usually think of thick wooly lined blankets. And the popular space blanket doesn’t look at all like that.

But the secret to the space blanket’s warmth is the science as the garment redirects infrared energy and helps to keep users incredibly warm. In addition, the thinness of the blanket makes it very easy to pack.

Setting up a lean-to is good enough

A lean-to does not provide enough shelter
A lean-to does not provide enough shelter (Image via So9q/Wikimedia Commons)

One skill that many campers have in their arsenal is the ability to make a lean-to. The lean-to not only provides shelter from the elements, it also looks very cool.

The issue, though, is that in more extreme environments, a lean-to just isn’t enough. Camping experts suggest that people would be better off creating a structure with walls, a roof, and a doorway.

Bonus points, though, if you can quickly make a lean-to that comes even close to resembling the one shown above.

It’s ok to wear cotton

Not all winter gear is created equally
Not all winter gear is created equally (Photo by Bilal Kahyaoglu/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Many campers think that they will be fine as long as they layer up. The problem is that not all layers are created equally.

Particularly troublesome is cotton. Cotton is terrific in most situations, especially when it’s hot. But once the weather turns cold, the fabric loses its insulation properties if it gets wet. So when you’re heading outdoors, make sure you gear up properly.

 
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