It's a big world out there, with dangers hiding around every corner. But for every situation there's advice on how to handle it better.
When it comes to survival, there's no shortage of tips. Some of them are so erroneous, they can actually kill you. What follows are things we were taught when we were young that are totally false:
The food animals eat is suitable for humans as well. Birds and other animals eat certain fruits and mushrooms that the human stomach cannot digest. What's more, predators eat raw meat - something that's not commonplace in our diet.
Hit the nose of the shark that's attacking you. If you've ever been attacked by a shark, then you surely know that it's an exceptionally difficult task to strike the nose of the moving animal with force. If a shark is trying to bite you, it's best to try to place a hard object between you and it. If you don't have one, instead of flailing your fists about, try to poke its eyes or gills with your fingers.
If someone is found frozen, rub them with alcohol or put them in a hot bath. Hot water can cause shock. Alcohol on frozen skin can damage it. The best solution is to gradually heat a frozen limb with blankets and bottles of warm water under the armpits.
You can suck the poison out of a snake bite. If a snake is indeed poisonous, the poison immediately gets into the bloodstream if you're bitten. If you put your mouth on the bitten spot, you'll only add more bacteria into the wound. Additionally, there is a genuine danger of the toxin getting into the esophagus. A more practical survival tip is to keep your heart rate low - this way the blood circulates slower and slows the poison's spread throughout the body. If possible, keep the bitten area below heart level. The bitten person must be taken to the hospital as quickly as possible.
If you get lost in the wilderness, immediately look for food. Completely wrong. Humans can survive up to 6 weeks without food. To survive in the wilderness, it's much more important to find shelter as quickly as possible.
The juice in a cactus can save you from thirst. Practical only if you're familiar with the species of cactus from which you can safely filter water. Otherwise, this liquid will make you sick, you'll throw up and dehydrate even faster.
If attacked by a bear, play dead. Depends on the bear and the kind of attack. If the animal is attacking, always defend yourself. If you see the bear first, slowly and quietly back away to a safer spot - loud noises usually mean a larger opponent and make it run. By nature, bears attack only to defend their cubs. The animal always issues a warning from a distance that you're not welcome by making noise. If you're already too close and don't have time to slowly back away, lie down on your stomach and cover your neck with your hands. However, during a predatory attack the most logical course of action is to fight for your life as hard as you can.
A sloping shelter is always best. It all depends on the climate. A sloping shelter shields against the wind and cold during the night. But when you need warmth, this is the last thing to come to mind.
Moss always grows on the north-facing side of trees. Completely false. Moss can grow on all sides of a tree. If there happens to be more on one side, this is due to the surrounding environment.
Swim parallel to the shore if you're caught in a swell. This can only help if the swell is coming from the direction of the sea. Often however, it comes at an angle. The best solution is to try to remain close to shore by swimming perpendicularly to the current: at an angle to the current and toward the shore. The best point of advice is for you to not get over-exhausted and not swim toward the current. Save your energy and keep your head above water until help arrives.