Survival rule of 3 ( Step by Step Guide )

If you are a prepper or a survivalist then you have probably heard of the survival rule of 3, these are a couple of simple sets of rules which are extremely important. A lot of preppers and survivalists will prepare with the survival rule of 3 in mind, this is an extremely good practice which will allow you to think about different survival situations and how you will overcome them. If you see a prepper with a gas mask that doesn’t necessarily mean he is preparing for a gas attack, instead he is most likely covering the first rule from the survival rule of 3.

The survival rule of 3 is, you can survive for around 3 minutes without air, you can survive for around 3 hours without shelter in a harsh environment, you can survive for around 3 days without water, and you can survive around 3 weeks without food. Do note the survival rule of 3 doesn’t take into consideration variables like general health, climate, body type, and other complications that you might have in a survival situation.

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Not all people take the survival rule of 3 seriously, on the other hand, there are people who live their entire life by these rules. These rules are not just some simple rules, in fact, they are actually facts, which point out how weak we actually are if we are not prepared for certain situations. The rule of threes is actually a coincidence, 3 minutes, 3 hours, 3 days, and 3 weeks, although these rules or stats are correct.

As a prepper or a survivalist, you have to have priorities when it comes to emergency situations, and the survival rule of 3 sets defined priorities, this way you will increase your chances of survival exponentially. Most people know that if they get lost in the middle of the wilderness, is that they should look for water, but the survival rule of 3 points out that a person can live without water for 3 days but only around 3 hours in a cold or extremely hot environment.

If you follow the survival rule of 3 then your main priority should be to build a shelter, and only after that to go and look for water. If you go and look for water in a harsh environment without a shelter then you are just making things more difficult for yourself, and this is why a lot of survivalists and preppers live and prepare with these rules in mind. If you are a prepper or a survivalist and you want to live in the wilderness then check out my recent article How to survive in the wilderness without supplies? ( In 6 Steps ).

3 minutes without air

The first survival rule of 3 is that the average person can survive around 3 minutes without air. Although the truth is that people who have health issues tend to last even less without air. Once the body doesn’t get enough air it will fight as hard as it can to get at least some amount of oxygen. This is why a lot of people will actually injure themselves in such a survival situation, and this is a normal biological reaction.

This rule does not only apply for drowning persons but for every situation in which you might find yourself without oxygen. Even a daily routine could end up as a survival situation, in fact, there are over 5000 people choking to death every year only in the US. If you are preparing with the survival rule of 3 in mind then you have to learn how to do the Heimlich Maneuver and CPR. Now don’t learn these from the internet, just take a local course which will teach you all the basics.

A lot of people who are choking tend to panic, and most of them will try and force themselves to breathe normally which usually ends up clogging their throat. You could also find yourself gasping for air due to trauma, this usually happens in vehicle accidents or if you fall from an elevated position. Usually, in these cases, the force is so strong that you will struggle to breathe for a couple of minutes.

In the worst-case scenario you could have your lungs collapsed, and if you are not close to a hospital than your chances of survival are limited. Mountain climbers take the first rule of the survival rule of 3 extremely seriously, as in higher elevations there is less oxygen which will deteriorate the mental and the physical state of any person no matter how physically fit they are. This is why a lot of mountain climbers tend to have oxygen cylinders with them while climbing up a mountain.

3 hours without shelter

The second rule from the survival rule of 3 is that you can not survive for more than 3 hours without shelter in a harsh environment. Usually, this rule is referring to either hot or cold climates, and not to a comfortable climate. Now you might think that as long as you do not go into a desert or you climb up a mountain then this rule wouldn’t apply to you. What most people seem to forget is the wind chill effect, which can be extremely dangerous especially if you do not have shelter nearby.

If you have ever gone to hiking and rain was pouring down then you probably noticed how the wind chill effect combined with rain can make the local environment extremely cold. In this scenario, your first priority should be to get to a shelter as fast as possible. Humanity for the most part survived in cold and arid environments by using shelters. Ideally, you should either find a shelter or build one as fast as possible.

No matter how waterproof or insulating your clothes are, sooner or later you will still have to find some shelter from the elements. In desert environments finding shelter can be difficult, the good news is that for the most part you only have to find some shade. This is why a lot of survivalists who venture out in the middle of the desert tend to travel during the night time and rest during the day time.

In colder environments, on the other hand, finding shelter means that you find an area that is well insulated from the outside elements. Although something as simple as a wooden cabin will offer you protection from the outside elements but you should also use a heat source in order to increase your chances of survival. Getting wet in a cold environment without any shelter can be fatal, and your main goal should be to avoid getting wet at all costs.

In case you fall into an ice-cold river, you should strip naked, and dry yourself with a fire. Snow tends to absorb water fairly well and simply by placing your clothes on snow will drain them from the water. If you have seen any survivalist shows then you most likely have seen this scenario already played out a couple of times.

3 days without water

The third rule of the survival rule of 3 is that you can only survive for around 3 days without water. The 3 days without water is just an average and doesn’t take into consideration the local environment. In an arid environment, you will not last 3 days without water, especially if you are traveling on foot. In an arid environment, a person will need a lot more water than usual, this is because their body will sweat a lot especially if they are traveling during the daytime.

You might think that you should be safe from dehydration in colder environments, the truth is that the colder the environment is the faster you will dehydrate. In colder environments, the body will use a lot more energy in order to heat the entire body, and if you do not have well insulating clothes or you got yourself wet then your body will use even more energy and water in order to keep your organs at a stable temperature.

While most people know that they will get in a lot of trouble if they do not have enough water in an arid environment, but some of them will have a false sense o security in colder climates, although as you can see colder climates can also lead to severe dehydration fairly fast. Most people who find themselves in a survival situation in a cold environment without any water will think of eating snow, the problem with this is that snow will actually dehydrate you for more information check out my recent article Does eating snow dehydrate you? ( How and Why? ).

3 weeks without food

The last rule of the survival rule of 3 is that you can survive for around 3 weeks without food. Although this rule is just a general average, and it doesn’t take into consideration the climate and the body composition of a person. In an arid climate, your main trouble will be getting water, as dehydration will deteriorate your condition extremely fast. In colder environments, you will last a lot less than 3 weeks without food.

The main reason for this is that the human body uses up a lot more energy in colder environments than in hotter environments. The human body will use a lot of energy keeping your organs warm, as they will need a fairly warm temperature to function properly. Generally speaking the colder the environment is the more calories your body will need. Good insulating clothes do help, just keep in mind that the vast majority of heat loss happens through the head, and this is why it is vital to wear a hat during the wintertime.

This survival rule also depends on the physical activity, if you sit on your couch all day long and drink a lot of water then you can most likely go for several weeks without food, there are even people who are making water fasts for long periods of time, although you should consult your doctor before you attempt such a fast. On the other hand, if you are doing a physical activity then your body will use a lot more energy, once you run out of fat deposits your body will slowly eat away at your muscles.

Throughout history, people have survived with little to no food for long periods of time, and when times get desperate you might even eat mud or grass. Although the human body has not evolved to eat dirt, but in certain situations eating dirt can actually save your life, for more information check out my recent article Can you eat dirt to survive? ( What are Mud Cakes? ).

In conclusion

As you can see the survival rule of 3 is extremely useful, and if you are a prepper or a survivalist then you should definitely know them. Some people do prepare for survival situations with the survival rule of 3 in mind, and for the most part, this is a good idea. Even if you do not follow the survival rule of 3 it is still good to know them, this way if you get into a survival situation you can assess the situation and have a set of goals that will ensure your survival.

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