We've all seen those survival shows where people try to brave the most inhospitable environments. But how sound are their tactics? If there were no TV crews, would they make it? The truth may surprise you.

GayPeterParker asked: What "survival tip" should you NEVER use?

Submissions have been edited for clarity, context, and profanity.

10. Well... yeah.

Putting in your pin code backwards at an ATM does NOT alert the police in the event of a hold up.

It's just going to tell you your pin is invalid.


9. That's not how it works at all.

If an animal is eating a plant then it's safe to consume. This couldn't be further from the truth. Some animals eat poison ivy. Deer love eating poke berries. If you eat poison ivy you're in for a very bad time if you're lucky. If you eat poke berries be prepared to have extreme diarrhea and vomiting, which will cause dehydration and loss of whatever calories are left in your body.


If you eat poke berries be prepared to have extreme diarrhea and vomiting, which will cause dehydration and loss of whatever calories are left in your body

Step 1: Turn poke berries into a juice

Step 2: Dilute the juice repeatedly until nothing of the original substance remains expect for water "memory"

Step 3: Market it as a homeopathic weight loss supplement which reduces your body's calorific absorption.

Step 4: Profit.


8. You can go weeks without food. Water and shelter? Not so much.

You should never make finding food your first priority. You are gonna need water and protection from weather and wildlife first.


7. I learned this from "Twister."

DO. NOT. GET. UNDER. OVERPASSES IN A TORNADO. Do not stay in your car!

Get in a ditch, lay face down and wait.


6. Call 911 and sit still.

Never try to suck the venom out of a snake bite, both parties could end up hurt/ sick from the venom that way.


And don't "cut" a bite either. (used to say that you should cut an x through the bite) -- you'll just make it worse, it doesn't "bleed out the poison" and you risk infection.


Not to mention you'd have more bleeding to deal with.


Additionally, cutting can spike the poisoned individual's adrenaline, which will send the poison through their bloodstream at an accelerated rate. Usually a victim's best chance of survival is staying calm and a quick evacuation to a place that can deal with the venom.


5. Don't drink standing water.

Do not assume that water is "clean" based on clarity. Bacteria, Protozoa, and parasites are microscopic and can only be disinfected by boiling the water, pasteurizing it, or using an approved water disinfectant like iodine.

The only water you don't really "have" to disinfect is water seeping through naturally formed stonework like limestone, underground water tables that have a very low risk of being contaminated, and water derived from plants like tropical vines, banana trees or similar life that tend to be contaminant-free in their natural state.


In a pinch, moving water (like a river/stream) is safer than not moving water (pond/lake), correct?


Yes, and if it's truly a survival situation, it's better to risk drinking untreated water than risk heat exhaustion or dying of thirst if you don't have the means to filter or treat the water. You might catch Giardia or some other pathogen or virus, but if you don't have a choice, it's better to risk it than to die of thirst. A few years ago there was an article about a woman who died of heat exhaustion in the Grand Canyon, and she was found right by the Colorado River. She had probably been told to never drink unfiltered water and was trying to make her way out without doing it.

You have to determine what the more immediate threat is - dehydration/thirst/heat exhaustion or a parasite that is treatable and and won't kill you right away. In the above case, she had underestimated how much water she needed to carry in that sort of heat, and drinking from the river (and refilling her bottles) could have been enough to get her to safety, even if she was shitting herself from Giardia later.

Edit, I just looked up the Guardia timeline: 'Symptoms usually begin 1 to 3 weeks after exposure'. Definitely go ahead and drink away if it's the difference between making it out alive or not. The woman in the story I referenced above was on a day hike, not even a multi day trip, and it was the 100F temps without drinking that killed her in a single day. Heat exhaustion and dehydration can sneak up quickly in extreme temps. I personally carry a Sawyer filter in my day pack even on day hikes.


4. Carry a compass.

Don't use moss as a compass. There's a myth that moss always grow to an specific direction (some say north, facing Sun, away from it, etc) but the vast majority of moss grows wherever the hell it wants (actually a lot of factors affects how the moss grows).


Where moss grows:

Is it cold? Is it dark? Is it wet?

If one or more applies, it will grow there. It can't be rucked to care about directions

Edit: "it" can't be f*cked, no "I" can't be fucked. Altough we share those properties, I am in fact not moss.


3. What if no one knows I'm lost?

Trying to find your way when you're lost. Sit, calm down and wait for help first.


That's what my mom always told me in the grocery store.


2. What a great show.

Based on "Naked and Afraid" I'm going to go with...if you are walking around complaining about how the ground is shredding your feet and you find some reeds that can be woven into an item of attire...don't make a hat.


I've watched that show a lot and thought the same thing.

However, I have seen a few episodes where the survivalists actually do craft makeshift sandals from reeds, leaves, cordage, & whatever.

The makeshift sandals always break at the cordage that straps them to your feet, or fall apart at the sole in less than a day and you obviously can't spend all day making/repairing shoes.


Hats are actually pretty important too though in hot sunny areas. Hats can really cool you down and keep the sun off of exposed skin. There is a reason so many cultures developed large, ridiculous looking hats.


1. This goes for people too.

Vet Tech here...

Plenty of uninformed sources say that if your animal has a dangerously high body temperature, you should put ice cubes into their rectum to bring their temperature down. If you do this, you can send the animal into shock, and the result could be fatal.

Instead, sit with the animal in cool (but not freezing) water. Place wrapped ice packs around the outside of the animal, spray the animal's paw pads with isopropyl alcohol, put fans aimed on them, but don't try to put ice cubes up their butt!


put ice cubes into their rectum

Who would think this is a good idea?


For a lot of people, it's a spur of the moment thing. They're desperate to help their animal, and that's the most advice they can find. It's a bad idea, sure, but some people are so terrified by the time they seek help that they're left with that info.



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