Prioritizing one’s survival priorities while in an emergency situation. When it comes to survival, every emergency or crisis is unique. The setting, the weather, the people, and the events combine to create its own unique occurrence. However with that said, there are a few constants. For example, the cold can kill you faster than dehydration. A lack of water can kill you faster than starvation. And a panicked decision can get you killed immediately.
Whether you are planning for, or actually going through an emergency or disaster, consider the following information about one’s survival priorities.
First, I will mention the “rule of threes”. A human might only survive for:
- 3 Minutes without air
- 3 Hours without shelter in a harsh environment
- Three Days without water
- Three Weeks without food
That’s great to know, and helps with decision making. However, lets take it a step further than that. Originally, the U.S. Air Force came up with the following list of 7 survival priorities. This list is often referenced within the context of wilderness survival.
- STOP (Stop; Think; Observe; Plan)
- Provide First Aid
- Seek shelter
- Build a fire
- Signal for help
- Drink water
- Food: Don’t worry about it
The number one survival priority is a positive mental attitude. Do Not Panic… Stop what you’re doing. Think about what just happened /the present situation. Observe what’s going on around you, and the present situation. Maintain a positive attitude and come up with a plan of action.
Positive Mental Attitude For Survival
Beginning with, and keeping a positive attitude that includes the ability to adapt, to think clearly. One’s immediate assessment, decisions and subsequent actions are foremost.
With mental toughness, you can tolerate hard conditions better and do what needs to be done.
To the best of your ability, stay positive, be tough, avoid panic, work hard and take care of the worst problem first.
[ Read: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome ]
Chances are that if you’re with other people during the emergency or crisis, many of them may panic, babble, and they will tend to make bad decisions. What’s worse is that others will be affected by it too. Panic can be contagious. And stupid decisions from a loudmouth can lead to further disastrous results. Be aware of this. Take charge if you can. Or, don’t follow the crowd if they’re being stupid…
During an emergency situation, asses the situation and mitigate any of the following:
Immediate Survival Priorities
– Air / Oxygen. We need air, and the ability to breathe.
– Safety / Security. Immediate danger, threats, security.
– First Aid. Stabilize if necessary.
Top Survival Priorities
– Body Core Temperature. Hypothermia can set in fast. Overheating too.
– Shelter. Protection from the environment when necessary.
– Fire. If required – body core temp., water purification, food.
– Hydration. Three days without water, and… (not good!).
More Survival Priority Thoughts
– Food. Maintain caloric energy to keep going.
– Transportation. To safety. Under your own power or other means.
– Operational Security & Defense If the situation warrants. 2 or 4 legged.
– Sleep. Without sleep, decision making abilities will deteriorate.
One Version Of The Rule of Threes
- If you PANIC you could be dead in 3 seconds.
- If you have no OXYGEN you could be dead in 3 minutes.
- When you have no SHELTER under harsh conditions you could be dead in 3 hours.
- If you have no WATER you could be dead in 3 days.
- If you have no FOOD you could be dead in 3 weeks.
Note: Shelter includes body core temperature. Maintaining with safe limits.
[ Read: The 5 & 10 C’s of Survival ]
The following survival priority tips come from the US Army Survival Manual: FM 21-76 (October 1970)
- Size Up the Situation
- Use All Your Senses, Undue Haste Makes Waste
- Remember Where You Are
- Vanquish Fear and Panic
- Value Living
- Act Like the Natives
- Live by Your Wits, but for now…Learn Basic Skills
I wrote about it (here)
Someone on the blog once posted the following:
Survival Priority Lesson learned from the Corps and my current job as a Fire/Medic:
- The emergency has already happened, you can’t change that.
- Stay calm, or at least look calm, your family needs a leader.
- Is there still a threat? Take cover.
- Don’t needlessly expose yourself to a threat you cannot overcome, you’re no good to your family dead, they need a leader not a dead hero.
- Make a decision and go with it.
- The enemy of good enough is perfect; better an okay plan enacted now, than a great plan enacted after it is too late to make a difference.
Hopefully these thoughts and lists of survival priorities will help some of you. It’s good to have this in your head, just in case you’re hurled into an emergency situation or crisis.