Wilderness Survival: Some of You Will Probably Die

Wilderness Survival Rules of 3

The rule of three is pretty well known and yet many have decided they can rearrange the rules, because they think they know better. Some of course do know better, but for anyone lost, not just away from camp or home for a few hours, but actually lost or stranded needs to follow the rule of three or they may not make it back alive.

Rules to Survive By

According To the Rules, You Cannot Live Longer Than:

  • 3 minutes without oxygen (drowning, asphyxiation)
  • 3 hours with shelter in an extreme environment (hypothermia and hyperthermia)
  • 3 days without any water/liquid (dehydration)
  • 3 weeks without food/nutrition of any sort (starvation)

The first rule is obvious and does not require much discussion. The second rule though seems to be a point of contention with some.

One posting on a blog recently Paraphrasing “I sat on my boat for eight hours fishing, so the three hours without shelter is bogus”. Another one wrote that they were at a company picnic for five hours without shelter as well, so again who came up with those rules “The rule of 3 is BS” according to the person posting.

You become lost and it is warm out. Your adrenaline started pumping when you first had the inkling you were lost. It took several hours of wandering even darting around before you stopped and the full realization struck you. It is late afternoon by now.

To those that believe that shelter is not a priority because it is warm out will sit down, and agonize over the fact the beef jerky is almost gone and just one Slim Jim is left. Food is usually a priority in most people’s minds when they become lost.

Water swishes in the canteen so water is not an immediate priority and besides you have three days to find it according to the rules. You sit there and you feel dizzy, worn out, because the adrenaline is wearing off, your energy is depleting quickly.

One of the main reasons the rules state you need shelter within three hours is that you need shelter before dark in a survival situation and you rarely get lost at 6am giving you all day to figure things out.

Shelter needs to be ready before dark and you usually will not have three hours of daylight once you fully realize you are lost. You will spend several hours deciding if you are lost before doing anything else.

You feel the dampness creeping in and the shadows are getting longer. Thunder off in the distance means possible rain and the mosquitos are relentless, and you are not sure but you may have just heard a coyote howling. The fire you made smokes heavily because the wood was damp and it provides little light and if it rains the fire will be snuffed out.

It is dark now and stumbling around in the dark is dangerous, and no one with any wilderness survival knowledge at all would wander in around in unfamiliar territory.
You of course can survive three hours without shelter. However, can you survive without shelter in a survival situation? Can you survive all night in a cold rain without shelter and no dry clothes? If you do not have your shelter made before dark and the rains come do you really think you can get one made in the dark, in the cold and in the rain.

You certainly cannot survive if the temperature drops below freezing without adequate protection. In arid regions, it is common for the nighttime temperatures to drop below freezing even when the daytime temperature is quite warm.

Eight hours on a boat, fishing is not a survival situation.

You need to make shelter while you still have the energy and daylight once you find yourself lost. Even in the summer, a cold rain at night can cause hypothermia if you cannot get out of your wet clothes into dry ones or you do not have protection even from the slightest breeze.

Getting out of the hot sun can keep you from sweating more and thus accelerating dehydration. You also need protection from sunburn and breezes in a hot climate. Individuals have survived longer than three days without any water because they slowed their sweating by staying in the shade and limiting movement. You need shelter to provide shade.

You may think you do not need shelter because you have a poncho to wrap in, well that is shelter, if you have a heavy coat that is shelter. Some of you may argue about the need for shelter because you imagine you have to build a cabin with a front porch to have a shelter. A pile of leaves or pine needles is shelter if you burrow down in them. Stop thinking you do not need shelter within three hours and you may survive the ordeal of getting lost.

You simply do not want to sleep on the ground without any cover in any weather, because the weather can change. Get a shelter constructed first, so you have it when it does get dark and begins to rain, sleet or snow.