Rule Of Threes

In survival training, many instructors refer to the “Rule of Threes”.


Here they are, as taught to me by Hank, of Green Earth Survival School:


3 minutes without air

3 hours without shelter

3 days without water

3 weeks without food

Please note that the second one, Shelter, is not normally included, but for survival reasons, SHOULD be. While it does throw off the “3Theme”, it is important to remember.

Here they are broken down:


3 minutes without air – Sure, there are some folks that can hold their breath longer than three minutes. However, the average person can’t get past a full 60 seconds, let alone 3 full minutes. My personal best is around 2 minutes, 25 seconds, and I dive for a living. But I am no Stéphane Mifsud, holder of the world record for holding his breath at 11 minutes, 35 seconds. Crazy.

Solutions: This won’t helpBut this might!


blue 3

3 hours without shelter – This pertains to exposure. Inclement weather, be it hot or cold, can kill within hours. Shelter, even in the form of proper clothing, can be the difference between life and death. Read more about death from exposure here.

Solutions: I wear layers all year long.  Too hot? In the summer, I wear one of these as a base. Over, I wear a loose nylon shirt and a pair of quick dry shorts.
Or Too Cold? And you can NEVER go wrong wearing this.
Prepare for both with this!


3 days without water – Dehydration is a nasty way to go. red 3Physical and mental breakdown starts with as little as a 2% fluid loss. A 10% loss can be fatal. Just writing this made me go take a drink of water. Just in case. Read up on dehydration here.

Solutions: This won’t help. And while it is “Gluten Free”, this won’t help either.
However, we have this for the house, and these for our cars and bug out bags. We will also be adding this very soon. And all of these options work well with one of these.

green 3

3 weeks without food – No caloric intake can lead do death in as little as 21 days. While Mahatma Gandhi went 21 days without dying, I probably couldn’t make it that long. I should add that death by starvation occurs more rapidly if you are also dehydrated. Scientific America has a good article on death by starvation here.

Solutions: For your home, grow a garden. Raise rabbits, quail, ducks, or chickens. For Vehicle-and Bug-Out bags, we have these (lemon-flavored – the wife and daughters’ favorite) and these (I prefer these due to the coconut flavor). Learn about wild edibles from books like this, or from local experts like Green Deane.
You can also carry some home made jerky. (If you can get it to last….)



Now, please understand these are simply guidelines. Every person has a different breaking point. Some can deal with hardships better than others. A large portion of survival, and the very first thing covered in Green Earth Survival School’s Survival classes is “PMA, or Positive Mental Attitude”. Basically, if you have hope, you’ll live longer.


But that’s a topic for another article.




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