The Rule Of Three


Knowing and adapting to the ‘rule of three‘ could make a difference between life and death when making critical decisions in an environment of potential or actual disaster.

The Rule Of Three is a way to help remember a set of priorities to sustain life.

Here’s what I mean…

Generally speaking, you can only survive for…


3 MINUTES Without Air

You have to breathe. Your body needs air/oxygen. Someone who is not breathing has only minutes… So, priority #1.


3 HOURS Without Body Core Temperature

You can survive for three hours without maintaining your core body temperature (getting too cold or too hot outside the thresholds of survivable body core temps). When analyzing deaths of persons lost in the wilderness, most lose their life due to hypothermia (cold) or hyperthermia (overheating).


3 DAYS Without Water

You can survive for three days without water, but that’s about it… maybe a day or few more if you’re lucky. You must stay hydrated. The second leading cause of lost persons death in the wilderness is dehydration.


3 WEEKS Without Food

You might survive for just three weeks without food. Although you may technically survive for several weeks, without enough calories you will quickly become increasingly unable to help yourself out of the situation.

With that said, you might say that AIR, SHELTER, WATER, FOOD, is the proper priority order for survivability.

Depending on the situation, circumstance, or environment, you might also insert ‘SECURITY’ as #1 (before AIR) when there is an immediate threat to life. You might say the rule of three for security is 3 seconds…

So perhaps you might logically conclude the order as follows:

2. AIR

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  1. People need to think about this before they bug out to parts unknown. Make sure you have a good plan before leaving the safety of your home. Unless you have the money to own a well stock retreat plan to stay put. I like to think that I am that mean, lean, marine I once was but common sense tells me that this 66 year old marine and his wife would not make it very long trying to live on the road. I have all the things I need right here at home. Just my two cents input.

      I personally would agree with you 1000%, unfortunately every situation is different, and some should very much research the need to “Bug-Out” (if I live in a 50 story apartment complex in the middle of NYC for instance), as much as those that have decided to “Bug-In”, need to remember there always may be a need to Bug-Out (fire, Nuke fallout, overrun with ISIS, etc.) having an alternate location (retreat) is very important.
      Being flexible is very important, and the ability to gather information (communications) to make the best decision.

      1. Very true and I agree. Some people will have no choice but to bug out. I also have a bug out plan if I have to leave. Most of the people from the big cities will not be welcome in the rural areas and most do not have the skills to survive.

        1. @ RUNNING BEAR
          Hence if you do live in the cities and are planning on using your Groups of three, you have better have a location and have talked to those there about “what if”. AND bring your skills and everything you can. Also stockpile some goods if possible.

          Did not mean to get into Bugging-Out, but I think this ties into the 3’s as maybe “3 days” to find a place to hold up, as the “family” is not going to be able to walk (whatever) longer than that, could you imagine young children in a situation like that, 3 days is all you’re going to get I would bet..

          1. @ Stardust
            You mean like a Pandemic, Grid Down, and Financial Collapse all at the same time?:-( :-( :-(

    2. @ RUNNING BEAR,

      I agree. Running is a young man’s game. Not only is it a young man’s game, it’s a young man/woman who actually knows what the hell they are doing, game. I see on some sites folks describing their bug out bags that must weigh well in excess of a hundred pounds. I respectfully submit they are living in fantasy. I’ve lived a long, full life. I will live, or die, in familiar surroundings.

      1. Amen Dennis,
        Feel the same, this is my home, ill burn it to the ground with me in it before i give her and her contents up to anyone or anything for any reason

    3. With 3 young kids, bugging out is NOT my first option. It’s not that my kids are soft or can’t carry gear. Quite the contrary. Last summer my 4 year old packed in her own gear up a water fall to a hidden lake in the mountains. As a mom, I have to consider their well being (physical and mental), the actual threat and the if bugging out is absolutely NEEDed. With the small group of like minded people near us, I am confident that we would likely be better of bugging in, assuming that option is available.

  2. Great reminder Ken, I do it a little differently than yours but the idea is the same;

    1) Three seconds without protection, think Situational Awareness, Firearm Protection
    2) Three minutes without Air, which is pushing the limit for most people?
    3) Three hours without Shelter, less in severe conditions, IE falling into iced lake or river.
    4) Three days without water, unfortunately at 2 days you’re already becoming delusional.
    5) Three weeks without food, again after about two weeks you’re beginning to lose your ability to think correctly
    6) Three months without companionship or outside contact with other people. Loneliness will drive most crazy and delusional quite quickly, think solitary confinement here.
    7) Three years without rebuilding “life as we know it”.

    But those are just my thinking.

      1. @ Kulafarmer
        Hell dude, we just had that…. HAHAHAH
        Unfortunately it looks like 3 more coming.. :-( :-( :-(
        Not sure this country will survive.

        1. I would would like to think we would have three more years, but with things starting to happen so fast, SHTF in three hours, three days or three months!! One thing is certain, daylight is burning, we can’t afford to waste any of if. Every hour of prepping and every dollar spent on preps now will be multiplied many times when compared to those that have choosen other priorities.

          1. @ Being Watched
            I was meaning 3 more decades of HORABLE politicians. Heck I KNOW for a FACT, 3 more years is a definite…

          2. Good for you!!! I’m not going to be the one to wake you up from your dream!!

  3. About 3 minutes without air. When the pumper starts to fail, you might want a bottle of cayenne pepper stored in the kitchen. One doctor stated he never lost someone having a heart attack when giving them a cup of warm water mixed with a tablespoon of cayenne pepper. Administer while they are still having the attack. Takes only a few minutes to start working. You can google this. Another doctor stated he actually revived someone who heart stopped all together with a cup and warm water and cayenne pepper. Some fishy but research seems to verify this works. The pepper balances the blood pressure and feeds the heart. Also the other day my son had a cut he could not get to stop bleeding and he tried cayenne pepper. Stopped right away. Soldiers in WW II all had cayenne pepper to stop bleeding wounds.

    1. Another first aid tool for trauma bleeding is Celox. The military has been using it now for three years and its sold on Amazon and Ready made resources. The use of Celox has saved lives when IED’s were being used against our soldiers in Iraq.

      Cheyenne pepper can also be used against tracking dogs when you’re on foot!
      Remember the movie “Cool Hand Luke”??? One of Paul Newman’s best performances!!

  4. Due to where I normaly call home, I have already determined that I will Bug Out and have a retreat with others already there. My everyday carry/get home bag are always in my vehicle. My physical condition is always kept ready. My bugout bag and other supplies that remain can be loaded within an hour.

    My get home bag does include 2 hand guns (the same caliber) with ammo, protein bars, 3 sm bottles of water, first aid kit, change of clothes, FF respirator with extra cartridges (in its own bag), flash lights, puncho, potassium iodine tablets, radiation detection stickers, a pair of walkie talkies wrapped in bubble wrap inside of a Whitmans Chocolate Candy Tin just in case of an EMP, a large Bic lighter, fixed blade knife, mace spray and taser for non-lethal protection, life straw, small powerpack for recharging. Most importantly my situational awaremess has tools other than my brain and vision, the use of a few sets of portable/audible motion sensors and small lights that are motion activated to utilize while sleeping wheither I’m at home or on the move.

    I guess the key is that with the proper preperation and recognition and awareness we all have a better chance at survival of what is ahead.

    If we all make to Saturday, I’ll be sharing what I think will be vital info for everyone!!

    Stay Safe.

    1. Every situation can be differant! When suffering from hyperthermia seconds count! Building a fire and removing wet clothing would be more important, or hypothermia, cooling off with a water soaked towel and drinking water would be more important.

      It all depends on the circumstances and the immenate threats that have to be overcome or elimenated.

        1. You might consider practicing with your skills using your supplies if you haven’t already done so. The placement of a fire big enough to deal with Hyperthermia would depend on if you are alone or with a group, the size and materials of construction of the shelter and whether the shelter is temporary or permenate.

          Good Luck!

          1. most weekends find me doing just that, my only point was that shelter and fire should be your first priority, once that is established you can begin to process water…this refers to a wilderness survival situation, not a shtf bug out…although the priorities are basically the same, saving the need for security and remaining covert.

          2. Beingwatched,

            Hyperthermia is “excessive body temperature”. Hypothermia is “low body temperature.


          3. Yep, I sometimes get them mixed, but the point was made that circumstances will dictate the priorities, example a fire that would generate smoke would not be good for trying to be covert and not being discovered when they start rounding up people to put in FEMA camps. A few cans of sterno when burning won’t generate smoke or odor.

            Being prepared when the bad stuff starts by having a plan A B C and D and having a descent recognition and reaction time of when to change to an alternate plan will be very important. Acting like a deer in headlights may get you killed or put those that are depending on you in danger.

            Different elements of time in different circumstances, well here’s one,
            the commondity of time to prepare is more valuable because we hare getting closer than most realize to the day when the short fuse will be lite!!!

          4. In my opinion, the fuse is already lit. We will know on 11/8/16 if it reaches the powder keg.

  5. The Bible Sayeth: ‘A threefold cord is not quickly broken.’
    As far as grouping goes, we learned in the Military that small groups of three worked out pretty well. Can take care of themselves a lot better than two.

  6. Since the topic of ‘Bugging Out’ has come up (0ff topic), I believe that in the vast majority of cases, it is a Fantasy.
    Just envision you (and your family) refugees.
    A very bad, dangerous scene. Expect no pity.

  7. My opinion regarding the three, shelter, water, food. You will find that every second property around here has an RV trailer or motor home parked for that elusive camping trip or that emergency home. When the SHTF you will find most lakes and streams lined with RVs that have managed to get out of town – the rest will be lined up on all our roadways preventing travel anywhere. Perhaps false freedom with the little dog, the BBQ, the ground carpet and the little fence for your space.

  8. Rule of 3 also applies to items and strategies.

    For example:
    – 3 ways to make fire, to purify water, cut something, shoot, etc.
    – always have at least three plans: A, B and C. Routes to BOL,


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