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Drinking alcohol helps keep you warm. This is one of the more common survival myths. It came about because alcohol expands blood vessels and the extra blood near your skin makes it feel warmer. The problem is that heat will radiate away from your body faster and you’ll end up colder than you were before you took a drink.

You can eat snow or ice for hydration. This seems to make sense since snow and ice is just cold water. But doing this will lower your body temperature and waste energy. Before eating ice or snow, melt it, boil it, then let it cool down to a moderate temperature before drinking it.

If you’re in the desert, you can get water from a cactus. This is a very common survival myth. I don’t know where it came from, but it’s wrong. The inside of a cactus is thick and tough, and you’ll probably only get a few drops of water from it. Plus, the water will be bitter and could make you sick. In the desert, you should walk downhill until you find a wash, then follow the wash downstream until you find some low areas where water may have gathered.

You can drink your own urine to survive. I don’t know why Bear Grylls (of Man vs. Wild) likes to drink his own piss so often. The problem is it’s difficult for your body to filter all the waste products out of urine, and if you do it again the urine will be darker and it will be even more difficult for your body. It’s a process of a diminishing returns that will leave you even more dehydrated than if you’d abstained. Only do it as a last resort and only do it once. 

People in the city will die if the SHTF. Not necessarily. Many people imagine that if the shit hits the fan, city dwellers will starve to death or kill each other. Granted, people in the city are in more danger from war and terrorism. But preppers in the city who band together to defend their area will be able to make it until order is restored. Whereas people in the country will be in more danger from criminals looking for easy, isolated targets. Country folk will also be the last to get supplies when the trucks start moving again.

Guns are the most important thing. Not true. Although guns are great to have, they won’t help you if you’re thirsty or have a medical emergency. They will protect you from criminals, but you’re more likely to die of disease or accidents than criminals. So wait until you’ve stocked up on some food, water and medical supplies before you buy a gun.

It will be every man for himself. When disasters like hurricane Katrina happen, the media likes to focus on the looters and rioters; it gets them better ratings. Hollywood makes a similar offense when it portrays survivalists as lone nuts who live in the country and shoot anyone who approaches their homestead. In reality, crooks and kooks represent a very small portion of the population. Most humans are naturally gregarious beings that rely on one another. Most people will work together to survive.

Cockroaches are the only thing that would survive a nuclear blast. While it’s true that cockroaches can handle thousands of times more radiation than humans, there are many other insects that will survive better than cockroaches. Mythbusters did an episode about this. You can watch the conclusion of their study here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-6cIy_s8pQ

Nuclear war would kill everyone on the planet. Certainly 99%+ of the population would die, but there would still be survivors here and there, especially in the southern hemisphere. Many scientists now believe that a nuclear winter would not be as bad or last as long as once imagined. People who are prepared for a nuclear holocaust would be the ones to repopulate the Earth.

It’s better to be dead than live in a post-apocalyptic world. I sometimes wonder if people who say this are just making excuses for not prepping. Life after a nuclear war would be horrible, and suicide might seem like an easy way out. But ultimately there is nothing more important than the survival of our species, and think how amazing it would be to help start a new society.

One Year Urban Survival Plan

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  • Fithin

    Can I ask as to where you obtained the data to verify these myths? I ask because I have read them, and I myself have done quite a bit of analysis of the so called myths you try to debunk here. Allot of these are based on factual scientific data.
    For one instance: Drinking your own Urine, 85% of the sodium in your body is contained in your blood and lymph fluid, Sodium levels in the body are partly
    controlled by a
    hormone called aldosterone, which is made by the
    adrenal glands. Aldosterone levels tell the kidneys
    when to hold sodium in the body instead of passing it in the urine. Also remember Sodium is both an
    electrolyte and a mineral.
    People say that you will end dying from dehydration, but in fact you won’t, the naturally occurring electrolytes in the sodium will help to replenish those lost due to sweating.
    Also for the Solar Stills, these are things that are created in a fixed location, used in conjecture with other forms of rain water collection, serve as a great way to collect extra water at a base camp location.

  • Urban Alan

    There are numerous sources that advise against drinking urine for hydration. Among them is US Army Field Manual FM 21-76 which says the salt content will make things worse. I don’t know anything about aldosterone, but I admit there have been a few stories where people claimed drinking their own urine kept them alive longer (such as what’s-his-name from 127 Hours). I’d at least suggest only doing it as an absolute last resort.