People love to make up stories, and sometimes it's hard to determine what is real and what is just made up. So, how do you know if what you're hearing is fact or fiction? Here are some of the most common camping-related myths out there, and we're telling you which are real and which are busted!
Hang Your Food Or Bears Will Eat It
Real: While Yogi Bear was quite gentle when he stole picnic baskets, real bears can make a complete mess! This “myth” is very true. If you are out in a tent or keeping food outside for whatever reason, make sure it’s put where they can’t see it or smell it. But don't just hang it in a tree. Bears are good climbers! Lock it inside a bear-proof box and then hang it. Don’t put it in your tent unless you want to share your sleeping bag with Baloo!
Always do your research when you head out into the great outdoors so you know whether you're going into bear country or not. If you’re camping in an RV, the smartest thing to do is to keep your food locked inside your RV. This goes for trash too! Bears like scraps just as much as a full plate of food.
If You Get Bitten By a Snake, Suck the Venom Out
Busted: This is false on so many levels. First, you should know that getting bitten by a snake is actually pretty rare. Most snakes would rather run or hide from you than bite you. However, if you happen to be one of the unlucky few, don’t have someone suck the poison out!
First off, the venom moves through the blood stream really fast. By the time anyone tried to suck the poison out, most of it is no longer at the site of the bite anyway. Even if they can pull a little out, it’s still going to cause more harm than good. Not only can it do damage to the tissue in that area, it can introduce germs from that person’s mouth into your blood stream. Also, if they happen to have a sore or open wound in or around their mouth, then they can end up with venom in their blood stream as well.
So what should you do? The first thing you want to do is keep your heart rate down! Try not to panic. Know that most snake bites are not going to kill you. In fact they say that only about 25% of bites are lethal. Don’t run. Both freaking out and running are only going to pump blood faster throughout your body, speeding up the rate at which the venom spreads. Second, try to keep the bite below your heart. This way you have gravity helping to slow the rate at which that blood returns from the bite area. Immediately go to a hospital. You need anti-venom medication and that’s the only place you’re going to get it!
Marshmallows Are Made From Horse Hooves/Bones
Busted: Whew! I'm so relieved! This rumor started from a similar rumor surrounding how Jell-O is made. It was rumored that Jell-O was made from horse hooves and bones, but this is not true. Gelatin is made from animal products that come from boiling bones, skins, and hooves to extract the collagen from them. There are not pieces of hooves or bones in Jell-O. Since marshmallows contain gelatin, people tried to apply this rumor to them too. However, marshmallows use a pig-based gelatin that comes from hides, not bones or hooves. The rest is mostly sugar.
Campfire Smoke Follows You
Real: Have you ever spent a night around a campfire trying to dodge the smoke? No matter where you move your chair to, it seems to follow you everywhere? This is because as heat escapes the fire, the smoke goes along with it. When a person stands near the fire, he blocks airflow toward it. This then creates an area to escape to since air is coming from everywhere else. It’s basically a low pressure point that the smoke rushes to fill. So if you feel like it’s following you, it is. The best way to get it to leave you alone is to stand farther away from the fire than someone else.
Herbs In the Campfire Are Natural Mosquito Repellants
Real: This is true, if you're talking about the few herbs that work in this way, such as sage and rosemary. These herbs smell great as they burn, but insects are repulsed by them! You can enjoy a bug-free evening, and your campfire smells great too!
Don’t Swim Right After Eating
Busted: If your parents have ever told you that you had to wait 30-60 minutes after eating to swim, they probably thought they were doing the right thing to keep you safe. The myth came about with the concern that as blood rushes to the stomach to activate digestion, it leaves other parts of the body and could develop into debilitating cramps from lack of oxygen. While the fact that your body sends more blood to your stomach for digestion is true, it’s not nearly enough to cause any kind of debilitating cramps that would render you unable to swim. The worst thing you may have to worry about is an upset stomach, as you would with any other strenuous physical activity on a full stomach. So, according to the Mayo Clinic, unless you feel lethargic (that pesky food coma), you can hop in as soon as you want.
Poison Ivy Is Contagious
Mostly Busted: The myth that you can get poison ivy from someone else is mostly false. The rash that develops from poison ivy itself is not contagious. So if your buddy has a rash, you don’t have to avoid him altogether. What can be contagious is contact with that person or their clothing with the oils from the plant still on them. It’s the oils of the plant that can be spread from person to person and cause the rash to appear to be contagious. So, if the oils haven’t yet been washed from skin or clothes, a person runs the risk of getting it on them if they come into contact with the itchy person. But if the infected person has showered and washed their clothes, no one else is at risk of "catching" it.
Scratching Your Bug Bites Makes Them Worse
Real: “Don’t scratch! You'll just make it worse!!” We've all heard (or said!) this before! And guess what, we were right! Saliva from a biting bug creates an inflammatory response and your body sends out histamines to help protect you from what’s been injected into your system. When you scratch, you further that inflammation which then tells your body it needs to do more of what’s already making you itch. So the more you scratch, the itchier it’s going to get and the longer it’s going to take to go away. Instead of itching, try an antihistamine cream or lotion for relief.