Myths surrounding survival tips are often too common. Unfortunately, many of these misinformed tips could put you in more danger than if you’d avoided them altogether.
Valhalla Tactical is going to set the record straight on 10 survival tips we often hear:
1. Rub frostbitten skin
Under no circumstances should you ever, ever, rub frostbitten skin. Frostbite occurs when ice crystals form inside your skin cells and other tissues. Rubbing them to try and dissipate the frozen feeling will cause more damage. The only way to treat frostbite is to rewarm the tissue!
2. All base layers work equally well
This is not true! Cotton kills! While it may be a great material to wear during summer because it breathes well, cotton is not what you want to be wearing when it’s cold. Once it gets wet, it loses its insulating properties and stores moisture for up to 8 times longer than synthetics. Cotton will steal vital heat from you in cold weather, and this could lead to you developing hypothermia. The Valhalla Softshell Jacket is a great outerwear item that will keep you warm and doesn’t soak up water.
3. Eating raw meat and seafood is safe
We’ve all seen Bear Grylls chomping down some poor animal that is likely not long dead but definitely not cooked. Raw animal flesh contains pathogens which can attack the human body, making the illness difficult to diagnose when it sets in. People often refer back to sushi when trying to validate their claims that raw meat is safe to eat, but that’s because the pathogens in fish aren’t usually the right species to take up home in the human body. Better to stay on the safe side – just cook it before you eat it!
4. Cut and suck a snakebite
Maybe it was Hollywood films that made this technique seem like a viable option to many, but there is no truth to it. Cutting and sucking on a snake bite only opens up the wound, making it larger and introducing bacteria-filled saliva. Always apply pressure and get the victim to an emergency unit ASAP!
5. You’ll never get lost with a GPS
While GPS’s should be mandatory for those who enjoy hiking or exploring the backcountry, just because you have one doesn’t mean you won’t get lost. Take extra batteries and be careful with it, because if you break it, you’re on your own unless you have a map or compass. Navigation isn’t just about knowing where you are, it’s also about knowing which way to go. We recommend the Garmin Foretrex 601 if you’re in the market for a great GPS unit.
6. Build a fire in a cave for warmth
Heat causes rocks to expand. When rocks expand, they can dislodge or break. What happens when you’re inside a cave and you trap yourself in? Well then, you’re in between a rock and a hard place. Don’t start fires inside caves. It’s not worth the risk!
7. A big fire beats a shelter
Often touted as being the best way to stay alive, this myth needs to be busted. A fire is excellent at keeping you warm, boiling water and cooking food, but is it going to stop you from getting soaking wet if the heavens open or protect you from extreme winds? Always build a shelter, because no matter the situation, it will be worth it. Don’t forget to pack your Recon Bivi bag too!
8. Space blankets are useless
Although they look like junk, they’re anything but. Mylar-coated emergency blankets are very thin, but they are thermally reflective, meaning any heat your body is radiating out, is reflected back to you. They work extremely well and pack down incredibly small, so be sure to pack a few if you’re going out for a long hike. The best cure is prevention!
9. Use a thumbnail to test wood
If you’ve ever heard the myth about denting a piece of wood with your fingernail to test if it’s suitable for a friction fire, we hope you dismissed it as quickly as you heard it. Some denser varieties of wood are fine for friction fires, however, many other softer woods won’t work at all. Don’t try and rely on the thumbnail test as a surefire way (no pun intended) to validate whether your wood is up to the task.
10. Drink your own urine to stay hydrated
Urine should not be drunk even if water is scarce because you are reintroducing waste products back into your system, and your kidneys will have to filter it out again. If you drink it enough times, renal failure will occur. It’s advised to steer clear altogether, but if you absolutely must, once will keep you going for long enough to (hopefully) find freshwater. If you know you’re going on a long hike, why not be sure you’re water supplies are covered with a Camelbak H.A.W.G, capable of holding 3L of the essential liquid.
Get in touch with Valhalla Tactical if you’re looking for any other tactical gear that might aid in your missions and remember, don’t listen to hearsay when it comes to survival, because it might just get you killed! Make sure you get the right advice from the experts who’ve lived the missions.