To date, no one has actually died in 11 seasons of Naked and Afraid. That doesn’t mean there haven’t been near misses.
Honestly, it’s a miracle that no one has died during this adventurous project. The close calls, though, were almost too close for some.
Due to tight legal agreements, few ever talk much more about their experience than what you see in the show.
Keep watching to find out just how many nearly bit the dust!
How Naked and Afraid Works
For those that somehow have never heard of Naked and Afraid, this is how it works.
Two people are dropped into the wild for 21 days with minimal help. Oh yes, by the way, they’re Naked and Afraid. Why are they afraid? Along with being stripped of their clothes, they have only one item they can bring along with them.
Some opt for a knife, others for fire-starting tools. There is one more thing the Naked and Afraid survivalists get, an emergency radio for the medics.
The contestants meet in the assigned area, find water and food, and create a shelter. They have to survive this way for 21 days with almost no contact with the filming crew, medics, or producers.
Even though the show takes extra precautions and has medics nearby to each survivalist, things do happen. The medics are fully stocked with a field camp that has antibiotics, IVs, and emergency medicine and gear.
“Naked and Afraid” Producer Steve Rankin Nearly Lost His Leg
In 2013, before Naked and Afraid even started, one of the most dangerous and disgusting events happened to a Producer named Steve Rankin.
It’s Rankin’s job to scout locations and find out if they’re suitable. This requires a lot of hiking and survival experience, but nothing like what the challengers face — usually.
While the scouting team was tromping through the Costa Rican jungle, Rankin hopped over a fallen log. As soon as his feet hit the ground he felt a quick, sharp jab in his left foot. Just like it had stabbed.
Immediately, he knew what had happened. He hoped that it was just a warning bite, and no venom had been pumped into his foot by the dangerous fer-de-lance pit viper, also known as a “yellow beard” in other countries.
Once escaping the viper and getting into a safer area, the team inspected the bite and determined he had indeed received venom. They made a litter and rushed him back to the helicopter. But the time that Rankin had to hike with the bite helped to spread the venom further into his body.
For more than 6 days, his left leg ballooned. During that time, his foot started to rot on the inside due to the necrotizing toxins.
After several surgeries, the relieved doctor told him that they saved his foot and leg. Steve continued to recover and had to rehabilitate the leg for more than a year. Of course, the rotted sections of his foot, ankle, and lower leg needed to regenerate as well.
Rankin was in shock at the time, though, not realizing that losing his foot was the most likely outcome. He continued to scout and produce for Naked and Afraid ever since he was physically able to take it back up.
He also kept a good humor about it during interviews, but it remains a moment of reflection in his life.
Manu Toigo and Dengue Fever
Manu Toigo was on season 2 of Naked and Afraid and made it through the 21-day challenge just fine.
The Queensland, Australia native was no stranger to survivalism, with a primitive survival rating of 8.0. What scared her next was what she brought back with her.
While shooting in the jungles of Panama, she got bitten by a mosquito and contracted Dengue fever. After the show wrapped up filming and she went back to Los Angeles is when it all started to sink in. Initially diagnosed with anemia, things didn’t sit well and she was persistent.
Three days later she was exhibiting all the signs of Dengue fever. If they hadn’t been able to start therapy as soon as they did, she would have surely died.
She had severe headaches between her eyes, and then it became a fever, nosebleeds, and gum bleeding. Let’s home none of us ever have to experience this terrible disease, spread by mosquitoes.
Manu did make a full recovery, but it took time, patience, and after two weeks of hospital stay, physical therapy.
Manu still has no regrets of her time on the show. If she got asked about it, she said it’s: “The most epic experience I could ever have done.”
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Keep watching for even worse brushes with death on Naked and Afraid.
Blair Braverman Meets a Spider
Blair braverman a naked and afraid contestant , hails from California but has run a dog kennel for a decade. She’s got a list of accomplishments a mile long as an author, dog sledder, exchange student, and adventurer.
She’s even competed and finished the Iditarod (more on that in a bit).
In 2019, she took up the challenge of Naked and Afraid.
Blair braverman a naked and afraid contestant officially left the show due to heat exhaustion, but found later that she actually had a spider bite on her face. She had to be rushed to the hospital in Polokwane (POH LOH KWUHN AY) less than 12 hours later.
After inspecting the wound, it believed she bitten by a brown recluse. Due to the place on Blair braverman a naked and afraid contestant face she bitten and the bacteria that the stingers encounter it can get deadly quick. She may also have suffered from an allergic reaction to the bite.
They didn’t get any footage from the hospital, but according to Blair’s Twitter account, she couldn’t move her neck or shoulders. She put on IV antibiotics, antihistamines, and steroids.
In total, she stayed for 5 more days in South Africa before being stable enough to travel. Blair braverman a naked and afraid contestant had a hole in her left cheek for weeks after the spider bite opened up, needing care the whole time until it closed. Additionally, her skin developed purple rivers that zigzagged across her whole body.
This is consistent with allergy to brown recluse bites, including nausea, vomiting, joint pain, fever, and chills.
Once the infection and allergy treated, she said she recovered quickly, and Skyped with her fellow survivalists on their extraction day.
Amazingly, the same year she started training for an upcoming Iditarod dogsled race and finished. She certainly is a tough person to have survived and adventured through all of that!
Let’s hope we get to see her again, this time finishing the whole challenge!
Samantha Ohl Almost Died From Hypothermia During Naked and Afraid
Samantha Ohl is a survivalist from season 8, she’s a challenger from Sharpsville, Pennsylvania. Married with four kids, she was a full time mother at the time of her episode of Naked and Afraid.
While she was living in the USA during that time of her life, she learned some things about survival while living in Malaysia as a little girl. Her love for the outdoors and nature came from this time in her life and only grew more since then.
She learned even more about survival after joining the US Army and completing two and a half tours in the middle eastern theater of war. Serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, this veteran honed her survival skills to an art. With fire starting and shelter building.
She wanted to test herself a little too much, though. During filming in Croatia’s Velebit mountains, there’s a rainstorm followed by an unusually cold night.
While her partner, Adam, suggested they share body heat (he was a newlywed himself and didn’t take the decision lightly) to survive. Samantha didn’t like the idea of that and turned the offer down.
Before long, Adam called a medic for Sam, who didn’t seem to be breathing much and starting to scare him. Calling in the medic through the emergency radio, the medic determined she had stage-two hypothermia.
This condition appears as lethargy, confusion, a dangerously slow pulse, and a core temperature much below normal. Blood first leaves the extremities, then the organs begin to shut down as the body sends warm blood to the brain and heart to keep it going.
Fortunately she reached a hospital in time and was kept going through a gradual thawing process, sustaining no permanent damage. While it isn’t the most gruesome near-death in the show’s history, it may be the closest
She still greatly regrets her choices, and wishes she could have finished the challenge. We hope she gets her wish sometime in the future!
There have been dozens of contestants on Naked and Afraid. It’s amazing to think that no one has died yet on the Discovery Channel show.
No doubt there are many more situations we could talk about. A few that come to mind are Honora’s faking of a catatonic state, and producers, cameramen, and even park rangers getting stalked and intimidated by Lions in South Africa. Let’s not forget feet infected with flesh eating bacteria and fasciitis!
What do you think about Naked and Afraid contestants facing death and laughing in its face?
Tell us in the comments below: Should the show quit while they’re ahead or continue until something truly grizzly happens?
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