Survival has rules? No, not really. You can think of the rules of survival more as guidelines on what you should prioritize if you end up in a situation where you are potentially fighting for your life.
By remembering these simple rules, you can give yourself the best chance of surviving in an emergency.
These guidelines are often known as the survival “rules of 3”. In extreme conditions, your body can typically survive:
- 3 minutes without oxygen
- 3 hours without shelter
- 3 days without water
- 3 weeks without food
Of course, there are many factors that can influence these numbers, both external factors and in the needs of individual people. If it’s a beautiful, sunny day in the mid-70s, you’re not likely to die in 3 hours without shelter. Surviving without shelter in sub-zero temperatures is another story.
Oftentimes when people end up in survivalist mode, food becomes their first priority when it should almost always come after securing shelter and water (if you’re not drowning and need the oxygen, of course).
If you have oxygen, shelter should be the next priority, especially in temperature extremes. It only takes a few minutes for the human body to become hypothermic in extreme cold.
Finding drinkable water will be the next priority.
While the general rule of 3 days of survival without water holds true in many scenarios, that amount of time may be shortened if the temperature is very hot or if you are exerting a lot of energy and losing water through sweat.
Here’s a video that breaks down each of these in more detail, along with another rule – 3 months without hope.