Set Your Survival Priorities: Rules to Live By


You never thought it would happen to you, but here you are, smack in the middle of a survival situation. What next?

In any given survival situation, you’ll find very little that can be counted on. Fortunately, there are some “rules for survival” that you can not only count on, but will give you a much better chance for survival in many different situations.

Even the most novice outdoors/survival enthusiast has heard of the “Rule of 3’s”, but it bears repeating:

In extreme situations, a person can live:

3 minutes without air
3 hours without shelter
3 days without water
3 weeks without food

But exactly what does that mean to you, now, in the midst of your current survival situation? Lets break it down.

3 Minutes Without Air

Chances are, you are breathing as you assess your survival situation. Does this mean we can move on to the next? Not hardly. This first rule should be a priority before you ever find yourself in a survival situation. This is an important factor in your preparations for outdoor travel.

Consider this: suppose you find yourself in a situation with a loved one that is allergic to bee stings, and they end up getting stung. As the allergic reaction kicks in, their throat begins to close, and breathing becomes difficult if not impossible. If you have used the first of the “Rule of 3’s”, you will likely have an epi-pen as part of your survival kit, and will be able to take immediate action. Other before hand preps to consider that will satisfy this rule include:

Take a CPR/First Aid class – If someone in your group stopped breathing and required CPR, would you know what to do? Take a Red Cross CPR or full blown First Aid class and be ready before you are stuck in a survival situation.

Learn the “Heimlich” Maneuver – It’s been a long day on the trail, and you and your survival partner hunker down and settle in to dinner. A rogue bone or chunk of food goes down the wrong pipe, and your partner is choking. By learning basic emergency protocols such as the Heimlich Maneuver, you will be better prepared than most.

3 Hours Without Shelter

First off, many of us have spent far more than 3 hours outdoors without what most people would think of as shelter – a ‘roof’ over our heads and a few walls – but we lived through it. When we think about it, however, we find that shelter does not always mean an actual shelter.

In a survival situation, shelter has a number of meanings. Chances are, you have been outdoors for many hours during a light breeze, for which you prepared for by wearing a couple of layers. Likewise, shelter from a light rain can be as simple as a jacket with a hood or other head covering attached to it.

In more extreme situations – high/low temps, heavy rains and especially blizzards – you will likely require several layers of shelter, from a heavy jacket to an actual crude shelter that you can get out of the weather in. Your present assessment will determine exactly what you are going to need, so don’t waste time and get to building a shelter that will keep you out of the elements and warm and dry.

3 Days Without Water

Now that your shelter is built, it’s time to secure water. Hopefully, you have found yourself near or at your vehicle, which should include at least a few gallons to get you started. You did put together your vehicle survival kit, right? If not, check out Survie the Rockies: Be Prepared and get that vehicle kit together.

If you aren’t near your vehicle, you’ll need to secure potable water. While there are many ways to do so, you’ll want to devise a way to store some additional water for you and any one with you. You also want to be sure to boil the water for at least a half hour before drinking. Once again, if you’ve prepared properly for surviving the Rocky Mountains, you have at least 2 methods of starting a fire (in your “Every day Carry” kit) and quite possibly even some pre-made tinder (in your survival/”Bug Out Bag”). In addition to boiling, you may want to consider carrying a few water purification tablets in your bag.

3 Weeks Without Food

Your shelter is built, and water has been secured and stored, your immediate thirst satiated. Chances are, you’ve built quite the appetite. Indeed, someone in a given survival situation can require upwards of 5,000 calories to get through the rigors of survival, depending on the situation.

Once again, proper preparation should now afford you at least 3 days of rations in your survival bag, and upwards of a week’s rations if you have constructed a vehicle kit, as well as provided you with a basic means of fishing if the opportunity presents itself.

This is another rule that comes in pre-survival situation, as well. Before you find yourself in a survival situation, learn how to build a variety of traps and snares. Learn how to use a slingshot and get good with it. Consider adding one of the more powerful C02 rifles to your “Bug Out Bag” (BOB), and learn how to use it proficiently to take down small game.

By knowing & putting to use the “Rule of 3’s”, both before and after you find yourself in a survival situation, you’ll not only stand a much stronger chance of getting out alive, but you’ll also give those with you the hope they’ll need to make it through.