If you’re an outdoor lover or adventure seeker, then there’s no season that can limit you in your travels.
But when you’re out there in the wild, anything can happen. You’ll come across an adrenaline-pumping blend of both thrilling and dangerous experiences.
And since you can’t die of joy, you only need to care about the dangers out there that you might face.
As a prepper, you should already have a full repertoire of tips and tricks meant to shield you from harm.
But what if some of the information you’ve learned is biased? What if the survival training you’ve taught yourself is based on little more than untrue myths or ineffective techniques?
Wouldn’t that put you more at risk than actually helping you overcome the obstacle you’re facing?
To erase from your mind the myths that might do you more harm than good, I’ve highlighted some of the most popular ones.
Let’s bust some survival myths!
Myth #1. Moss grows on the north side of a tree.
Reality Check: Based on the environment where the moss is found, it can grow on all sides of a tree.
If you want to rely on this myth for navigating through the wilderness, you’re more likely to end up on the wrong path than the one leading north.
Moss is a plant that thrives where there’s a humid environment and plenty of shade. So, if you find yourself in a lush forest where the sun can hardly pierce the thick foliage, chances are that moss will grow on all sides of a tree.
Indeed, there are places like California and Santa Barbara where the sun doesn’t shine directly overhead, but more to the south.
For this reason, the south side of anything growing in a forest will receive more sunlight, and therefore, moss will seek to grow on the north side where conditions are more favourable.
In a humid environment with shade in abundance, moss will spread everywhere, so don’t get tricked into trusting moss for navigating in the wild. (source)
Myth #2. If you’re lost in the wild and intersect with a river, follow it downstream and, sooner or later, you should find a human settlement.
Reality Check: It could take days or even weeks before you find help. During this time, you can run out of resources, which considerably lowers your chances of survival.
Losing your way in the wild can turn into a terrifying experience. And once panic settles in, you’re prone to making all kinds of wrong decisions.
Following a river downstream could be one of them.
Although human settlements do usually develop near bodies of water, you don’t have any guarantee that you’ll come across one anytime soon.
Trekking through unknown territory can get dangerous quickly. You can suffer serious injuries that will hinder or even stop your progress, and your resources and energy can get depleted, or even both at the same time.
So, what’s to be done? According to experts, the best solution in a case like this is to keep your cool and build a debris shelter as soon as you find a suitable spot.
This has a number of benefits – it’ll narrow down the search area for rescuers, you’ll save more resources and energy, and you can use the extra time to build a signal fire or to gather water and food supplies. (source)
Myth #3 The first thing to take care of if you find yourself lost in the wild are food supplies.
Reality check: Humans can resist three to six weeks without food and only three to four days without water. Remaining at the mercy of the elements will deplete your resources even further.
Your metabolism, physical condition, genes and mental state determine your resilience.
Despite how long you resist without food or water, having a roof above your head will exponentially preserve your body resources and energy level.
With this said, assembling or finding a shelter should be your top priority before attempting to look for food and water supplies.
A shelter not only provides insulation that allows your body to feel more relaxed and consume less resources, it also shields you from the biodiversity in nature.
You can use your prepper skills to either build a debris shelter (or snow shelter if it’s winter) or look for an already made refuge like a cave or abandoned cabin.
Don’t steer too far from your initial spot though. And place frequent markings so you don’t lose your way. (source)
Myth #4 You can satisfy your thirst by drinking cactus fluid if you’re stuck in the desert.
Reality Check: Unless you’re an experienced herbalist and can identify the specific barrel cactus that’s safe to harvest water from, the other varieties of cacti are likely to cause you more trouble than quench your thirst.
This popular myth has been promoted in movies and even word of mouth. While it’s true that some cactus fluid is safe to drink, most of the cacti found in the wild can make you severely dehydrated, give you stomach pains, make you feel sick, and even make you hallucinate.
The reason for this is that the cactus pulp is extremely acidic and contains toxic alkaloids. And some cacti, especially those found in Texas and South and Central America have strong hallucinogenic properties.
So, if you ever find yourself wandering through the desert and in dire need of water, make sure you know exactly what type of cactus you should look for to satisfy your thirst.
If you don’t know exactly which kind to consume, then it’s best to avoid trying any of them as you may end up more dehydrated or in a very unpleasant situation. (source)
Myth #5 If you’re thirsty and can’t find a source of water, eat snow to keep hydrated.
Reality Check: In freezing conditions, eating snow will lower your body temperature to a bare minimum. As a last resort, melt the snow and drink it.
If you’re stuck somewhere in the wild, finding a body of potable water can be a challenging task, even more so if it’s winter.
With all the snow around you, you’ll likely be tempted to grab a handful of snow and eat it to escape the thirst.
According to experts, this is a terrible idea. Eating cold snow will sharply decrease your core temperature and cause you to burn extra energy while your body converts the snow into useful water.
Even more, snow retains lots of pollutants, so consuming it could also put your health at risk.
If you’re feeling extremely dehydrated, melt the snow into a bowl or other recipient as a last resort and sip it slowly so your body doesn’t use too many resources. (source)
Now that you know the difference between these survival myths and reality, it’s smarter to stay on the safe side of things.