The Necessity of the Survival Rule of Threes

As a survivalist, you know the importance of preparation. Still, many people underestimate nature and are often ill-equipped to handle the variables that present themselves during a routine outing or camping trip. It is for this reason, experts coined the Survival Rule of Threes for wilderness survival.

Understanding the Rule of Threes

The rule of threes is a four-point list designed to create a hierarchy of survival reactions. The list is made of four stated facts or assumptions about general survival. 

  1. A person cannot survive more than three minutes without air to breathe
  2. An individual can succumb to the elements without shelter after three hours
  3. A person cannot go more than three days without water
  4. A person cannot live more than three weeks without food

While each of these statements is stated as an absolute, it is necessary to discuss the unpredictable nature of the individual or the circumstance. Countless variables can result in these rules becoming inaccurate. However, it is also essential to point out the rules were never intended as hard facts but more as a guideline of survival steps.

The Importance of the Order

When people enter a survival situation, it is likely never voluntary — unless you produce a reality show. The surprise of the situation often induces panic, anxiety, and fear, leading to irrational thinking and reasoning, meaning a person is likely to worry about things in the wrong order.

The survival list places everything in a hierarchy, providing people an easy-to-remember order of necessities: air, shelter, water, food. While each might seem obvious, some can be easily overlooked in specific survival situations.

Consider this, you are in a parking garage when an earthquake occurs, collapsing the structure around you and your running car. A panicked person might become more concerned with finding a structurally sound location rather than the car exhaust slowly poisoning their oxygen.

Another example: you are hiking through Arizona canyons when you fall and break your ankle. The pain is excruciating, and you maintain focus on your breathing, ignoring everything else. If you adhere to the rules, you know you need to shelter yourself from the sun to reduce the risks of heatstroke and dehydration.

Preparation Is the Most Effective Preventative and Survival Skill

While the Survival Rule of Threes is not meant as a customized approach to survival, it is helpful in extreme situations, especially when panic and pain can alter your judgment. However, the best skill is and will always be preparation.

Before you go out on any trip, make sure you inform loved ones where you will be and when. Pack an emergency pack, including extra food, water, and an emergency tent. If you are going out on a boat or camping near water or anywhere oxygen deprivation is possible, pack oxygen. Finally, include a GPS tracker and satellite phone in your pack to ensure people can find you and you can call for help.

Before you head out on your next trip, memorize the Survival Rule of Threes. Also, if you are not an avid trekker, consult an expert to learn the appropriate skills and understand the essential supplies. Have you ever gotten lost or needed the rule of threes? Leave a comment and let readers know what you learned through your experience.