Most of us would like to think, when push comes to shove, we could channel Tom Hanks in Cast Away and tough out any survival situation.
We sit on our sofas, eating popcorn, scorning participants on The Island, peddling out old wives’ tales about using the sun to navigate because we watched a YouTube video about nature at 3am one time and now we’re experts, apparently.
However, This Is Insider has put together a little Do’s and Don’ts list to debunk some of those myths. So, apocalypse plans at the ready: Check these common misconceptions out – and amend as necessary. It could save your life.
Myth: You can suck the venom out of a snakebite.
Wrong. Don’t do this. If a venomous snake bites you or your mate, the poison will immediately enter the bloodstream. No amount of sucking will retrieve the harmful substance.
In fact, putting your mouth on the bite could infect the wound with extra bacteria and may transfer venom into your mouth and esophagus.
Instead, keep the injured person’s heart rate low and hold the affected limb below heart level while getting to a hospital.
Myth: If a shark attacks you, punch it in the nose.
Surprise, surprise. Punching sharks in the nose isn’t a good idea. Whoever came up with this shit has a lot to answer for. This Is Insider rightly point out that it’s pretty hard to land a decent punch on a moving shark’s nose.
Instead, the perceived – and correct – wisdom states you should try your hardest to get a solid object in between you and the sea predator. If that fails, you’re better off clawing at its eyes and gills.
Myth: Always play dead when you are attacked by a bear.
When attacked by a bear, the best thing to do is make it really, really hard for them to tear your limbs off. So don’t take it lying down. If you encounter a bear near civilisation, make yourself large and loud enough to scare it away.
Grizzly or brown bear attacks usually occur when they defend their young. In this case back away slowly. If a grizzly makes contact, lie on your stomach and cover your neck with your hands. However, if a black bear attacks, always fight for your life.
Myth: You need to find a food supply immediately if you are lost in the wilderness.
Did you know you can survive up to six weeks with no food? The same can’t be said for water or shelter.
If you ever get caught in the wilderness, those should be your first priority. You ‘hanger’ pains won’t bother you a jot if you’re being belted by weather storms or dying of thirst.
Myth: The fluid in a cactus can save you from dying of thirst.
Swiftly onto the next myth-buster: A lot of people think you can find water in cacti, and they’re sort of right. There is one species of barrel cactus from which you can safely drink from but it’s difficult to identify and extract the precious liquid.
However, most cacti contain liquid that will make you ill. Consequentially, you’ll vomit up all the liquid you had retained and become severely dehydrated.
Myth: Moss grows on the north side of a tree.
This little nugget of fake wisdom is entirely descendent of folklore.
Actually, moss can grow anywhere on a tree, in different climates and conditions.
Myth: If an animal eats something, it’s safe for you to eat it.
While it’s nice to think we’re close to our friendly, wild critters, actually our digestive systems are very different.
Birds and squirrels can actually consume berries which would kill a grown man. So next time you see a bird-feeder, or fancy a bite of your pet rodent’s dinner, don’t be tempted.
Myth: Rub someone’s skin or put them in a hot tub to warm them up if they’re freezing.
If someone is freezing, or on the verge of frostbite, you can actually damage their skin even further with a sudden change of temperature – even if you think you’re warming them up.
The best advice is to warm someone up slowly with blankets. Hot water bottles under the armpits help protect the colder extremities of the body from permanent damage too, by gradually warming up the sufferer.
So, if you thought you’d cut it as a Born Survivor using any of these tips and tricks to defeat Mother Nature herself, maybe you should make like Ray Mears and book yourself into a Premier Inn.
Or maybe just stay home.
A former emo kid who talks too much about 8Chan meme culture, the Kardashian Klan, and how her smartphone is probably killing her. Francesca is a Cardiff University Journalism Masters grad who has done words for BBC, ELLE, The Debrief, DAZED, an art magazine you’ve never heard of and a feminist zine which never went to print.