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The Survival Rule of 3: Air, Shelter, Water & Food

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The Survival Rule of Three’s

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The Survival Rule of 3, or “rule of threes”, is a well-known rule of thumb that describes the basic survival rules using the number three.

    3 minutes without air

    3 hours without shelter

    3 days without water

    3 weeks without food

The order of these determines what you should prioritize in a survival situation. First, you need to be able to breathe. Next, you need to have a way to shelter yourself from the elements. Then you will need to acquire a source of water. Finally, you will need to forage or hunt for food.

Each rule assumes that you are meeting the requirement above it. For example; you can’t survive 3 weeks without food unless you have water. You can’t survive 3 hours without shelter unless you have air, etc.

The survival rule of 3 may seem simplistic, but it can help you make split-second decisions in a survival situation. Mulling over whether to gather food or build a makeshift shelter can waste valuable time. The rule is simplistic so it can be easy to remember, but still helpful.

The rule is not exact. Many people can hold their breath for longer than three minutes. The shelter rule has a lot of variances based on your environmental conditions. We’ll go over each rule’s accuracy in the specific sections below.


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