Reality television has become more common than any other type of show on television. They seem like they might be a bit cheaper to produce since they don’t have to pay professional actors to perform the roles and viewers get sucked into the voyeuristic nature of watching others go about life.
Of course, as has been shown repeatedly, what we see on reality television is often scripted and highly edited to create a more interesting story. While most of the time this is a kind of harmless ruse, when it comes to survival or outdoor reality television, viewers could be misled down a path that could be more dangerous.
By letting us believe that what is being relayed as reality but is not, could mean the difference between life or death in a real situation. This is a list of some of the absolute worst outdoor tips we have seen on television.
1. Hunting for food
If you happen to be lost in the wilderness somewhere and find yourself short on food, naturally you are going to want to find something to eat in order to keep the hunger pangs at bay. But will you starve to death without food right away? Of course you won’t. Humans can actually live a couple of weeks without any food, so a little food can keep you going for quite a while. There is a big difference between finding some edible plants and tracking and hunting an elk.
For starters, if you somehow had all of the tools to hunt, kill, and prepare such a big animal, what in the world are you going to do with all of that food? You will have no means of storing the meat and chances are you are going to attract more trouble hanging around a carcass than you would have alone. Many shows have shown tracking and hunting elk as part of their survival ideas. Whether it was Hunting in the Sticks or Wild West Alaska, the hunt is not genuine. In Wild West Alaska, there was only one elk and they hunted for “survival” at a farm.
Bottom line: If you are in a dire situation and short on food, you are not going to want to hunt for big game.
2. Drinking your urine
This survival tip seems to come and go as a last-ditch effort to get some liquid inside you. Survivalist Bear Grylls has been shown to drink his own urine on his show as a method of preventing extreme dehydration. This is one of the worst survival myths out there.
To begin with, if you are dehydrated, your urine is going to be dark and full of waste products. Urine from a hydrated and healthy person is about 90% water, but this is not the case of a dehydrated person. Consider what your urine is for a moment as well. It is the liquid waste that your body has expelled. Putting this back into your body would mean that your body has to filter out the already concentrated waste products, putting you at further risk. You can drink urine once or twice if it is a true emergency, but any more than that and you will wind up poisoning yourself.
Bottom line: Do not drink your own urine. See if there are other water sources anywhere else.
3. Starting a fire with two sticks
This is not just the fault of reality television but has been one of those myths that seem to keep turning up like a bad penny. You will see one person place one stick horizontally where the fire is meant to be built and then use the second stick to rub between the hands quick enough to create a spark. It always seems just that easy too.
The method is not impossible and is one of the original and most primitive forms of fire starting. With enough friction, the sticks can get hot enough to combust, but the conditions have to be right. If the weather is wet, cold, or you don’t have the two hours to rub sticks together, it is unlikely that you will succeed without having practiced it first.
Bottom line: Carry actual fire starters with you if you hope to start a fire.
4. Eating raw meat
There have been several outdoor shows where they show members of the cast partaking in eating raw fish or other animals, following an assumption that it is ok to eat unprepared meats if you are in a dire situation.
The truth here is that yes, some people have eaten raw meat and been lucky enough to walk away without any kind of adverse reaction. But raw meat still has pathogens that can take up residence in your gut. In these cases, you won’t know what is happening until you find yourself incredibly sick from the uncooked meat with little medical help to be found.
Bottom line: Always cook your meat.
5. Moving water
I have seen this outdoor tip time and time again. Someone will say that moving water, meaning a stream or a river, means that the water is safe to drink because it is not stagnated. If you had to choose between a mud puddle and a river, you would think the river water could be safer, right?
Bacteria and other pathogens can live in any body of water, regardless of whether it has a current or not. You cannot approach a stream and assume that the water has not been contaminated. It is too risky.
Bottom line: Always boil or purify your water before you consume it. The last thing you need is a gastric infection which would dehydrate you further.
The biggest thing to remember about outdoor and survival reality shows is that the people you are watching are not alone. They have an entire crew following them at all times, meaning that they are never in any true danger. Go ahead and watch these shows if you enjoy them, just take them as a created story instead of tips you should follow in the outdoors.
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