Anyone who has spent any time on preparedness/survival sites or discussed survival related needs via other venues has heard the “Rules of Three” philosophy. While not a perfect science for everyone, these general rules are the foundation for sound preparedness plans and purchases of gear and supplies.
The Rules are:
- You can live 3 minutes without air.
- You can live 3 hours if core temperature isn’t maintained.
- You can live 3 days without water.
- You can live 3 weeks without food.
- You can live 3 months without companionship.
As stated, these Rules are not set in stone but offer you a real perspective when developing your plans and knowing how to prioritize your purchases. These Rules do not take into account the ability to survive a severe injury that is seriously bleeding as there are many variables in blood loss. Take into account, that the US military for medical now places more emphasis on stopping blood loss above airway management for combat casualties. We will just touch on each Rule briefly here and later posts will deal with each more extensively.
During a disaster, there is a threat of dust and debris in the air. Even if you are able to continue breathing to supply needed oxygen, the airborne particles may contain contaminates. Look at the long term negative health effects of survivors, first responders and volunteers following the attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001. You should have a dust masks or surgical masks to act as an air filter to protect yourself and family members during and after a disaster. If you do not have a mask, you can improvise one from a bandana, shemagh, shirt, or a clean rag of some type. There are very simple masks or ones that take disposable filters. Get the best mask that fits your budget and threats. Additional threats may include biological, chemical or radiological threats from transportation or industrial accidents and the possible terrorist attack.
Your core temperature is vital to survival. Hypothermia, the body being too cold, starts when your core temperature goes below approximately 95 degrees Fahrenheit. You lose body heat up to 25 times faster if you are in water or wet than from cold air alone. Even with mild Hypothermia, you can suffer from mental confusion, which can reduce your chances of survival. Heat can have dire consequences as well. Heat injuries are the result of being exposed to high temperatures, dehydration and salt loss through perspiration. Heat stroke becomes a threat after your core temperature rises above 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Sunburn is another heat injury that helps add to the risk of heat stroke.
Dehydration is caused by the loss of bodily fluids. We drink water to maintain this balance but in a disaster or the aftermath, potable water may be scarce. While you may live 3 days without water (and possibly longer), it will not take 3 days for the effects of dehydration to have a negative impact our your chances of survival. Lack of water can lead to heat injuries as discussed above, cause mental lapses and confusion, reduce your alertness to other threats, and reduce your body’s ability to flush toxins from your system to name a few issues. According to FEMA, ready.gov and several other government entities, you should have 1 gallon per person per day just for basic survival. This does not include cooking needs or sanitation needs.
Food is not as important as water or core temperature for survival but it is the item most people seem to fixate on the most. The reason is, food is not only a basic need for life but a comfort item as well. While it can take 3 weeks or longer for you to actually die from starvation with conditions affecting the actual time table, the negative impacts from lack of food will be felt much sooner. You will lack energy needed to do simple chores or walk to safety, lose strength to perform tasks, reduce your immune system’s effectiveness, suffer mental confusion, and lose the will to survive. Food can also be your downfall if you have plenty of food but lack water. Eating without drinking fluids can reduce your chances of survival as well.
Many people will swear they can live without seeing another person for more than 3 months. It is quite possible and most likely, probable to survive without companionship for more than 3 months. It will be a physical survival and not a guaranteed mental survival. Humans are “herd animals”. We seek safety and security in numbers and most have the innate need to be included and praised. Maslow’s Theory of Hierarchy of Needs covers the psychology of humanity’s need to be included and among other people. We also have the historical examples from many cultures of an offending person being “shunned, excommunicated, outlawed, etc” as a punishment for their actions.
This posting in no way covers all aspects of preparedness or survival. Future posts will address the separate issues touched upon here and add new ones. We hope this gives you a starting point to begin your own research.
One of the best knowledge generating items you can purchase is Craig Caudill’s book, “Extreme Wilderness Survival”. Do not let the title mislead you, with its chapters on developing your midset and practical exercises to gain the skills, it will benefit you for all manner of incidents.
Get Trained. Be Ready. Stay Prepared.