Prepper Rules-Of-Three


Guest article by NRP;

Preparing and Survival for the most part may be broken down into “Time-Lines”. These concepts have been written about in many articles and seemingly are explained very simply.

My attempt here is to expand on those concepts and to add a few more “Time-Lines” to think about.

1. 3 Nano-Seconds to think
2. 3 Seconds to react
3. 3 Minutes without Air
4. 3 Hours without Shelter
5. 3 Days without Water
6. 3 Weeks without Food
7. 3 Years without Rebuilding


3 Nano-Seconds to think

The mind is a very “fast” thing and processes millions/billions of actions/thoughts per second, at the speed of light. Your heart rate, your breathing, 90% of your body actions happen without you really thinking about them. That leaves the rest of the brain to do the “thinking” stuff.

There lies the problem, the “rest” of the thinking. If not coherent, it can and will get you in deep trouble or dead. Day-Dreaming or being distracted while driving for example can lead to wrecks very fast. If you are not watching/listening/smelling what is going on around you, the outcome can be bad to say the least.

Situational Awareness is one thing we talk about quite a bit. But this is only one of the many things the “Nano-Second” is involved in. PUT the dang Dumb-Phone Away, stop being distracted by things, pay attention to your life and what the world is telling you.

FYI, an EMP will affect us all in very few Nano-Seconds, so forget about knowing it’s coming and stuffing all those electronics in a Faraday Cage.

Related Article: 5 Nanoseconds To Lights Out


3 Seconds to react

Someone is running at you, or past you, what do you do? Are they holding a Knife, a Gun, a Club, or a Rose? You will have approximately 3 seconds to analyze and react to the threat from 20 feet away.

What if this person is running to his Girl Friend or Wife? What if this person is running to stab and rob you? 3 seconds is really not much time.

Additionally 3 seconds traveling at 60MPH in a vehicle will go 264 feet. How long does it take to check your text messages and NOT crash?


3 Minutes without Air

3 Minutes without Air; that’s a very VERY long time to not be breathing. As a Scuba Diver I respect that amount of time very much, you DON’T run out of air at 120’ below the surface and last very long.

If you get trapped under ice by breaking through a Lake or a Stream, you have 3 minutes. If in a fire/smoke and holding your breath, 3 minutes. Try holding your breath for 3 minutes and running out of a smoked filled building.

What if someone is choking you? Can you escape within that 3 minutes? Also some reference the 3 Minutes to being submersed in freezing water. I would agree. Have you ever stepped in a stream of freezing water and your foot feels like it’s falling off? Imagine imagine that, but being totally soaked.


3 Hours without Shelter

The blistering sun and its heat can cook you in hours or less. Heat Stroke, Heat Exhaustion, Sun Burn and Sun radiation poisoning will make for a very bad day.

Freezing temperatures or just getting wet in moderately cold temps and you run the risk of hypothermia. Make sure you have some sort of appropriate shelter everywhere you go. Imagine breaking down in the car/truck in a snowstorm, with no heat, no fuel, and no shelter from the cold……. Happens every year.


3 Days without Water

Actually your body starts to shut down in about 2 days. The kidneys and internal organs begin to shut down, the brain no longer thinks coherently, the blood thickens, and the muscles start to die. Re-hydration after 3 days without water is almost impossible with just “drinking”, it takes medical care.

Please note that when we say “water” this can be almost any fluid; juice from a can of vegetables or fruit, milk, soda (not the best), and so-on. Note that alcoholic drinks are very bad for hydration, even beer, so use caution when you’re dehydrated and don’t drink those kinds of liquids.

Additionally, make darn sure that your “water” is clean. Polluted or contaminated water can and will kill you just as dead as dehydration. Have and use a GOOD drinking water filter. Check the many articles here on making water “clean”.


3 Weeks without Food

Food, there are a thousand articles around on food and storage of food, It’s cheap and easy to keep, so DO IT. There is no reason not to store up a few months of food. Do not follow FEMA’s advice (3 days of food??? Really??)

Related: Food Storage


3 Months without Resupplying

A constant source of Water, A Garden, the skills to Hunt/Fish, Knowing how/what to forage, knowledge how to Preserve and Keep foods; without these you WILL run out of the essential needs to survive, period.

Related: Skills


3 Years without Rebuilding

Within 3 years you should be rebuilding your life, home, and family, yes there are many, like myself, that know exactly what’s ahead if TSHTF, but for those that live through it and think the “after” will be all “peaches and cream”, and that someone else (the .gov for instance) will be there to rebuild for them, well best of luck with that thinking.

YOU need to acquire the knowledge now, learn how to do things that will be required to survive as they did 200-400 years ago.

For those who think that after a major SHTF (an EMP for example) there will be Law and Order, Food Supplies, Running Tap Water, Instant Medical, Cell-Phones, on and on well I do wish you the very best of luck. OR maybe, just maybe nothing will happen to disrupt our world?

Just remember when seconds matter, help is only minutes or more away (or not at all), you MUST be able to help yourself and yours.

Let’s hear from you. How much “time” do you have to…….?

Similar Posts


  1. Two would be better. If I could remember 3 my golf game would improve…..

    head down
    left arm straight
    slow backswing

  2. ‘A Threefold Cord Is Not Quickly Broken.’

    I’ve heard from Military Veterans that a group of 3 people that trust and depend on each other, is a very good survival tactic.

  3. Never before have I heard of the Nanoseconds, Resupply, or Rebuilding, but they are very good to note. I would probably never have thought of the rebuilding one on my own. I have just thought that groups will form of their own accord, sort of forming city-states like in Italy or Greece. But actually seeing something like that on a list like this is very interesting, and definitely something to ponder on for a while.

  4. What’s missing? Three nanoseconds to think. How many nanoseconds for the emotions to kick in?
    Emotions are so very, very powerful which is why the left uses them as weapon. This generation has been thoroughly taught to not only acknowledge their emotions but to base their reaction solely on them. Which comes first? Emotion or thought? How does each contribute to outcome?

    I certainly don’t have answers to these questions, but I will be giving it some “thought”.

    1. Re: “Thought”…I might have chosen to use the word “reason”…I must cogitate further upon the matter.

  5. Murphy’s law comes in 3’s.

    Christian faith has 3, The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit.

    There are 3 positions to take. The right side, the wrong side and the gray side.

    The most sturdy structure has 3 sides like a triangle.

    All thee are relatable to survival.

  6. There are three things I/we do not approve of:

  7. Bad news comes in threes (or celebrities passing on, not to wish this on anyone).

  8. Thanks for posting NRP:

    I have a saying at work: The right way, the wrong way, and the State way. (substitute state with Army, Navy government institution of choice)

    I also remind folks: “It could be worse, we could be federal.”

    Good guidelines: I’ll add 2 more rolls to my emergency TP stash now rounding out my personal rule of 3.

      1. @ Gary Lensman

        So you HAVE been to the local range here huh??

        More like Fire, Ready, ooooohhhhh poop.


  9. Did I hear this right – university students under attack – notice said RUN, HIDE, FIGHT ?

    1. Have to add – if there is one guy with a kitchen knife, perhaps FIGHT should be first if several people are available to help.

        1. @ kevenH

          Unfortunately I have to disagree with you Kevin, the first rule to a Knife fight is to bring a Firearm. :-)


          1. Ha! Just last night we watched “Raiders of the Lost Ark”…perfect!

  10. I am now wondering… if I was living in a place being hit by a wildfire like has happened in Tennessee ,do I have three other places I could go ? And , in keeping with the other version of the rule of three, ( 3 is 2 , 2 is 1 , 1 is none.) do I have at least two other people I can really depend on when the SHTF ?

  11. 3 people to never pizz off;

    The LEO letting you off from a ticket.
    Your proctologist.
    Your wife, and expect to sleep well Mr. Bobbitt


  12. Three types of funny-
    Funny once
    Funny always (like an unnamed person and TP)
    Funny never

  13. From the James Bond Good finger book-
    The first time you run into someone is happenstance, the second time is coincidence, the third time is intentional.

  14. My father said as a man you need three people on your side:
    1. A good attorney
    2. A good doctor
    3. A good accountant
    Then he would say, ” make sure they don’t know each other”

  15. Whoever that smokin hot babe is at the top of the page, Ol’ Heff would give her the best 3 minutes she ever had.

  16. Give me tree steps, three steps mister, give me three steps toward the door. Give me three steps, and you won’t see me no more!

    1. @ Lauren

      FYI proven fact, Tequila is NOT alcohol it IS a drue…. I know for a fact the floor is ALWAYS hard to hit with yar face…. been there, done that


  17. After 3 days, fish and house guest stink. quoting my friend and neighbor, luv ya’ll, Beach’n

  18. 3 months without Community (No one has all the skills/resources/manpower to go it totally alone on an extended basis..)

  19. The topic begs for !ighthearted response due to its’ resemblance to superstitous folklore, but keep in mind there is a serious element here. Do consider priorities is the message. It is well known that numbered lists are gobbled up by wandering minds, see how many magazine covers have lists: 5 different ways to…, etc. So look beyond the humorous element and don’t waste your efforts on trying to be a comedian, stick with the core message, survival.

    1. Boy, isn’t that the truth…heralding “lists” in a title or on a cover is a proven way to attract readers, because more readers translates to greater profit. I admit to being sucked in by lists (the fewer items on the list the better, though, because I have a good memory but it’s short).

      We’re all noticing that in recent times, the “list-in-the-title” trend is even finding its way into the survival corner of the blogosphere, probably enhancing the ability of some bloggers to monetize their writing efforts. Good for them, I guess…whatever it takes…

      May we never lose our sense of humor.

  20. NRP very interesting and informative article. I never really looked at it liked that.

    1- The fight is no where near over.
    2- It will get worse before it gets better.
    3- Thinks look bad just say “Good, Hate to let all our training and prepping go to waste!! Bring it!!”

    Adapt and Overcome.

  21. To Heff:

    I will decline to comment on the appearrance of the smokin hot babe at the top of the post as I would guess it to be the daughter of Ken or NRP.

  22. My 3 cents:

    1. Identify Threat
    2. Assess required action
    3. Implement with no prejudice

    So long and thanks for all the fish…

  23. I’m 61 (20yrs frontline military service) and hopefully TSHTF will not happen in my lifetime. I’m teaching my Grandchildren the rule of threes – along with survival skills. Thankfully they take it serious and I pray for their future.

  24. Very interesting article and taken seriously. I’d add 3 days, or hours, of emotional reaction. Once you’re safe. Once you’ve done all you can prepare for the emotional reaction.

    That person running at you meant harm. You did what was necessary to save your life or the life of loved ones. Don’t kid yourself you will have an emotional reaction later. Anything from mild regret to depression. This you can not practice.
    Theory and reality are vastly different.

    It can blindside you or cripple you. How will cope?

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