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Rule of Threes for Survival Debunked

Rule of Threes for Survival (Debunked)

The Rule of Threes for Survival and why in this prepper’s opinion it doesn’t hold much water. First, let me start by saying the Rule of Threes is not false. In fact, many of the principles hold very true, but for anyone in the prepared space, I feel like this needs to be thrown out the window.

SHTFPreparedness has a great post on this if you are looking for more information on what the rule of threes is and its principles. 

So the basic concept of the Rule of Threes is as follows.

  • You can survive three minutes without breathable air (unconsciousness) generally with protection or in icy water.
  • You can survive three hours in a harsh environment (extreme heat or cold).
  • You can survive three days without drinkable water.
  • You can survive three weeks without food.

Ok, so let’s get into why I think for most preppers this is utter garbage and should be ignored when putting together your preps. Now, let’s go through this one by one.

Three Minutes without Breathable Air

Now, you may be thinking to yourself that this is a good principle to understand and in most cases, you would be correct. Here is where I find problems with this list. In a vacuum chamber with ZERO air three-minute average would seem correct. Where I find problems and part of the reason I believe this should be ignored is as follows. Not everyone is created equally. Some people can hold their breath for ten minutes at a time and others find it difficult to hold for thirty seconds. Air like water is required for life and everyone knows this. 

This is where things get interesting. Carbon Monoxide in a survival situation will be the most common thing to hinder most people’s ability to get air. Other than a nuclear winter this could be remedied by simply opening a window to introduce fresh air. Also, the ability to breathe “dirty” air is something the majority of the planet has learned to deal with. China is a prime example of this, with the amount of smog they consistently breathe in on a day-to-day basis.

Another major factor would be where you are geographically and your elevation. The higher elevation could mean less oxygen and lead to quicker suffocation and lower elevation could mean longer times. Knowing the specifics of your situation is ultimately what is important and taking these numbers at face value could ultimately lead to your demise.

Three Hours without Shelter

You will notice I changed the sub-heading from what is posted below because this is how it is always portrayed. Three hours in 100-degree heat with no water and no shelter might be realistic. Or 0 degrees with no heat source and no shelter might be another realistic scenario.

The problem with both of these is unless you are bugging out and have no plan I don’t find either of those scenarios very likely. Most people will either bug in or have a well-thought-out plan to bug out. Again, these rules may seem like a good idea, but only if you are out backpacking. In most prepping situations this one makes zero sense.

Three Days without Drinkable Water

Now, this one kind of pisses me off. You absolutely, 100% CAN live longer than three days without “Drinkable” water. People all over the world have done this for centuries. Okay, now for the reality of the situation. Clean drinking water will be paramount to a long-term survival scenario as it will be needed for drinking, cooking, and washing. The reality though is water can be boiled, filtered, and even drank out of ponds, lakes, rivers, and creeks.

Not all water is created equally and some may give you diarrhea or other stomach bugs. I do NOT recommend drinking water if you are unsure, so make sure you filter or boil your water.

Three Weeks without Food

Of all these, this is the only one that holds true for most people in the prepping community. If you have had no food for three weeks you are essentially going to starve to death. Now, this will also depend on body fat stores and such, but this one, definitely plans for.

So there you have it. The reasons I feel like this methodology is essentially debunked for preppers. Now, if you are new to prepping or an avid hiker or backpacker, definitely make sure you know this information. Thanks for checking out the content.

If you agree let us know in the comments. If you think we are full of shit let us know also 😉

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