5 Urban Myths About Outdoors—Debunked

Have you heard the tale of two girls who were attacked by bears because they were menstruating? Or that if you're bitten by a snake, you should suck the venom out? 

These myths became popular belief thanks to chatter between campers, popularized news stories and more.

More: The 10 Commandments of Camping

However, that doesn't mean they're true. In fact, none of these five commonly held beliefs are. Let's clear the air and debunk these urban myths.

Myth 1:

Boil contaminated water for at least 10 minutes

It's important to consider what bugs, bacteria and viruses might be in the water you're grabbing from a trailside stream. However, there's no general rule for how many minutes you need to boil the water to get these pathogens out. Still, many outdoor enthusiasts refer to the 10-minute rule: boil for 10 minutes and it's safe for consumption.

In most cases, keeping it on the fire or your stove for one to two minutes after reaching 212 degrees fahrenheit—boiling point—you're safe. Go to CDC.gov for information on how to rid your water of specific, common pathogens.

More: 15 Wilderness Cooking Essentials

Myth 2:

Poison Ivy is contagious

You don't need to play the "Get away from me!" game when a friend brushes up against a poison ivy plant on the trail or near the campsite. What causes poison ivy to generate a rash is Urushiol, an oily resin that's found in the leaves, stems and roots of poison ivy.

The only way poison ivy would be contagious is if the oil stays on the skin and comes into contact with another person. The rash itself is not contagious. If you think you've come into contact with poison ivy, change your clothes, wash body parts that may have touched it, and tell your friends that this is an urban myth and nothing more.

Myth 3:

Bears are attracted to menstruation

In 1967, two women were attacked and killed by grizzly bears in Glacier National Park, Montana. This started the 50-year-old urban myth that bears are attracted to mensuration; one of the two girls was on her period and the other was carrying tampons. 

After several studies and experiments, bear experts have confirmed that grizzly bears and black bears have no interest in menstruating women, nor are any bear attacks linked to women and their periods. If you're still not convinced, get all the details on one of the most popular studies.

More: Bear Safety Tips You Can't Miss

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