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Top 9 Survival Mistakes That Can Get You Kill

Last Updated: June 15, 2022

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In an emergency, survival is possible, but if you’re not an outdoorsman, it’s easy to fall for many of the common survival mistakes that first-timers make in a survival situation.

To prevent those situations, we’ve pulled together a list of some of the most common survival mistakes and how to avoid them so that you can be ready the next time you head out into the woods.

Survival Mistakes That Can Get You Kill

Survival Mistake #1

Not Having A Plan

So you have water purifiers, food storage, cooking implements, first aid kits, etc.

But do you have a plan?

It’s important to think about what types of disasters could happen in your area and how you and your family would react. You need to know how to exit your home safely, have a location where you can meet up with friends and family, know the best way out of town in case you have to bug out, and so forth.

Be sure to think these things through ahead of time. You may even want to run a stress test to see where your current plan is lacking.

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Survival Mistake #2

Poor Knowledge

“Be Prepared” is the motto of the Boy Scouts, unfortunately most people who find themselves in a Wilderness Survival situation have very poor knowledge on how to survival and are usually totally unprepared.

Know the 5 keys to Wilderness Survival 
1. Know how to build a shelter
2. Know how to signal for help
3. Know what to eat & how to find it
4. Know how to build and maintain a fire
5. Know how to find water and prepare safe water to drink.

Survival Mistake #3

No Shelter

When talking about someone or a group of people who died in the Wilderness there is a common term that you will hear come up, exposure.  

Whether it is hypothermia or heat stroke, the bottom line is you either did not have shelter (tent, tarp, sleeping bag with bivvy) or you didn’t have the knowledge to build a suitable shelter to shield yourself from the elements.  

Remember, Staying Dry is the first rule of Survival.

Survival Mistake #4

Not Purifying Water

Just because a stream looks clean and clear doesn’t mean it’s safe to drink.

Water can hide a plethora of microscopic bacteria that can make you very sick, and the vomiting and diarrhea that they cause can exacerbate dehydration.

Ideally, you’ll want to boil any open water before you drink it, but that means you need a fire and a container to hold the water.

If you don’t have a survival straw or water purification tablets handy, you do still have a few options.

Fresh snow or rainwater that doesn’t filter down from the treetops is usually safe to drink without purification.

Related post: 17 Ways To Get Clean Drinking Water

Survival Mistake #5

Not Knowing How To  Start A Fire

After water, fire is probably the most important element to help you survive in the wilderness — especially after an accident or crash.

If you can’t build one, you’ve got no way to cook food, boil water or signal rescuers.

Related Post: How To Build A Self-Feeding Fire

Survival Mistake #6

Not Knowing What You Can Eat

Can you tell the difference between a granny smith apple and a manchineel?

What about the difference between blueberries and belladonna? The two latter fruits are deadly. Manchineels are also known as manzanilla de la Muerte — the little apple of death — and belladonna contains atropine, which can be fatal in large doses.

Finding food in the wilderness isn’t impossible, but you have to be careful that you’re not making your situation worse.

Related post: 12 Edibles Plants And 13 Poisonous Ones

Survival Mistake #7

Lack Of Navigation Tools

People who venture into the Wilderness without a map, compass, and GPS are flirting with disaster.

Anyone who has spent time in the woods knows that within seconds even the best woodsman can get turned around in thick trees and bushes and begin to walk the wrong way.

Having a good understanding of cardinal directions using the Sun and Stars is also beneficial if you are thrown into a situation where prior preparation wasn’t available.

Survival Mistake #8

Bragging About Your Preps

Sometimes this is hard to resist.

You spend a lot of time thinking about prepping, saving up, looking for good deals, gathering supplies, etc., and it’s hard not to be proud of your efforts. And what do we do when we’re proud of something?

We tell people about it. But in this case, you must only tell people you trust completely.

Survival Mistake #9

Refusing To Bug Out

Since bugging out can be difficult and/or dangerous, I believe it’s important for people to learn how to shelter in place. However, there are certain situations where you must bug out, and ignoring them could be deadly. 

Don’t be one of those old folks who die in hurricanes and wildfires because they refuse to leave the home they’ve lived in for decades.

If there’s a chance your home could be destroyed, bug out.

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No one wants to think about being stranded in the wilderness with only the clothes on their back and the contents of their pockets, but these basic survival skills can mean the difference between life or death in a survival situation.

Practice your survival skills at home so that you have them handy if you ever find yourself stranded.

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