People Are Sharing Survival Myths That Could Be Deadly

I’m kind of shocked to read a lot of these. I mean, you hear something like “lightning never strikes the same place twice” when you’re a kid and that sticks with you. Turns out lightning does that all the time. Oops.

People in this online thread are sharing other such survival myths that we should all know the truth about. It could mean the difference between life and death.

What survival myth is completely wrong and can get you killed?


“Lightning never strikes twice in the same place.”

If lightning has found a path that it likes to the ground it’s extremely likely to strike there multiple times. That why lightning rods work.



Drinking water from a cactus. If absolutely needed for survival, you could get some water out of a Fishhook Barrel Cactus but only in limited amounts, most cactuses have various acids and other fun things in the water that will make you shit yourself to death, dehydration in the desert isn’t a laughing matter and you don’t want to lose the precious bit of water left in your body to the desert ground.



That bullshit “change your voicemail if you are lost” PSA that was making the rounds over the last year. You need a cell signal to change your voicemail, if you have a signal then why wouldn’t you just call for help?

Moreover it misses the most important thing about US cell phones and being lost: 911 will work on any cell tower regardless if it’s “in network” or even if you have an active phone plan or not. So in an emergency always TRY dialing 911 regardless of your phone appears to have signal or not.

EDIT: To the dozens of people who replied that you are supposed to change your voicemail before going out, this is still a bad idea. If you’re lost or injured in the woods, your survival depends on being found quickly. Waiting for someone to get worried enough about you not coming back to try calling you is just going to waste precious time. It’s much better to just tell your friends/family where you will be and set up a check-in time so they know you made it back safely.



“The desert is hot and little clothing is best.” Cover up during both the day and the night. The sun will burn you and dehydrate you very quickly. During the night it’s really common for people to die of hypothermia because the temperature drops so fast. And honestly living here, during the winter it gets to the low 20s f pretty often. And the wind is awful.

Edit to add: it’s dry heat here. There’s no moisture in the air majority of the year. You can drop dead from heat stroke “barely” sweating.



“Follow flying birds to find water” They can simply be flying to spend a night anywhere, so we can’t rely on them.



Running in a zigzag to outrun an alligator. Alligators don’t run for long distances, so this will probably just waste your energy. They can also climb some fences and trees as well.



Almost anything related to avalanches.

Here are a few popular and false myths:

That they strike at random. Most avalanches that injure or kill people are cause by those people, and they always show signs of instability, if you are paying attention. The problem is that there are lots of false positives — where the signs are there, the instability is there, but people just don’t quite manage to trigger them.

That you should be quiet to be safe from avalanches, because they are caused by sound. Sound does not trigger avalanches. Even very loud sounds are nowhere near enough. Avalanche control is done with howitzers and dynamite charges.

That you can get out of the way. Well, sure, of course sometimes it’s possible, but they can travel up to 60mph, and they can let loos across an entire slope all at once. By the time it slides, you are likely in it, and it’s inescapable.

That you can save yourself by “swimming”. Maybe for very small ones, but usually you’re just being thrashed. I’ve heard it compared to being in a side-loading washing machine.

That you can spit to “tell which direction is up”. You won’t be able to see anything useful, and, you know, gravity still works. But it’s irrelevant because that relies on the next myth …

That you can dig yourself out. Even if you are inches below the surface, it’s very unlikely. The snow sets up very hard, very fast, as thought you got caught up in a snow plow clearing a parking lot after a big snowstorm. People caught in avalanches report not being able to move their fingers.

Along with that are all the normal problems people have with low-probability, high-consequence risks, the “it won’t happen to me” stuff, but that’s not so much an issue of myths as poor judgment due to things like familiarity with a slope, desire to be accepted by a social group by skiing that rad backcountry line, feeling committed because you came “all this way”, deferring to someone you perceive as an “expert”, desire to get the first tracks after a storm, social proof, where you see others doing it, so it “must be safe”, etc.



That moss grows on the north side of a tree. It can grow all over the tree, so it’s not a steadfast rule that you should make important decisions solely on



Concerning frostbite, do not rub someone’s frostbitten skin or pour hot water on it to warm them up. Such measures will damage the skin even more severely.



“If you’re in a tornado, open all your windows to equalize the pressure inside to match the outside.”

If you’re in a tornado opening any window or door will create a wind tunnel that rips your entire roof off.



If you’re in a hot area, don’t ration your water, drink when you feel thirsty and search for more water.

Edit: the myth to be avoided is rationing your water. Don’t ration.



Drinking alcohol when you are freezing will keep you warm, it won’t, it will bring on hypothermia much sooner.



Just because water looks clean doesn’t mean it is. You’ve gotta boil it or distill it to actually have clean water.



Urban survival –

-if you hear shots, go home

-if you hear yelling, ignore it and go home

-if someone is following you, don’t go home

-check the license plate against your app info and ask the name of your driver if you’re using uber/lyft

-walk purposefully with your head up

-Act like you belong

-if you saw something, no the fuck you didn’t.



If your plane is crashing, an inflatable raft makes a TERRIBLE parachute. Mythbusters busted this.


That you should stand in a doorway during an earthquake. I live in an earthquake prone area. The doorway will collapse. You’re safer under a table.