5 Survival Myths

As more and more people become interested in being prepared for long and short-term emergencies, the quantity of survival information seems to multiply. However, we all know not to believe everything we read on the Internet or watch on TV – right? When it comes to planning for life-or-death situations, it pays to be discerning about the information you’re basing a survival plan on.

Here are five survival myths that may surprise you:

1.     You can go for weeks without food.  Sure, it happens and people survive, but try going just one day without food and you’ll quickly discover that you can’t engage in any meaningful physical activity. You might be able to sit and play Angry Birds until your iPhone battery dies, but you won’t be able to walk, run, dig, build or hunt.

2.     Eating snow is a safe way to rehydrate. Actually, eating snow can get you into big trouble. If it’s been on the ground for a while it can contain bacteria or other organisms. Also, it takes a fair amount of energy for your body to heat it once it’s liquid – that can contribute to hypothermia. Eating snow should be an absolute last resort if you can’t heat or purify it just like you would water. Which leads us to another surprising myth:

3.     Water in the mountains /away from civilization is clean and safe to drink. Sadly, even water far away from civilization can be tainted with organisms that can make you seriously sick. To be absolutely sure water is safe to drink, it should be purified by filtration, boiling or iodine tablets.

4.  I have invested in enough high-tech survival gadgets that life in survival mode will be almost like normal – maybe even kind of fun. Ask anyone who has actually had their survival plan put to the test and they’ll tell you nothing is like normal and nothing is very much fun, no matter how many gadgets they have. Gadgets can only do so much – and they’ll all eventually fail. It doesn’t make sense to depend on them for long-term survival.

5.   I can live off the land. This may have been true a couple hundred years ago but it is extremely difficult to do now. If you need confirmation, read any account that details what the pilgrims went through when they landed at Plymouth Rock (here’s a good resource). They had weapons, food, seed, building tools and animals. They even had access to the wisdom of indigenous peoples – still most of the settlers died and those that survived had a horrendous experience. “Living off the land” can be brutal and iffy. Wild animals are scarce (and will be more than ever if everyone is after them for food), arable land is also scarce and the knowledge of how to grow crops without modern machinery, fertilizer and pesticides is lost to most of us.

Survival is all about planning based on realism. If anything in your plan is based on something you’ve seen on TV or anything you’ve seen Tom Cruise do, you probably need to go back to the drawing board and start with the basics – having a reliable resource for food, water and shelter.