Quick Outdoor Survival Tips: The Rule of Three

Quick Outdoor Survival Tips: The Rule of Three


When exploring the great outdoors, make sure you know the rules of three before any amazing outdoor adventure.

While bringing the 10 essentials with you every time you head out onto the trail or into the backcountry for the day is the first step, knowing what to do with them once all hell breaks loose is paramount. If something goes wrong, what do you do first? Knowing the survival rules of 3 will help you figure out where to start.


The survival rules of 3 are as follows. In any extreme situation, you cannot survive for more than:


⦁ 3 minutes without oxygen (or 3 minutes in icy cold water).


⦁ 3 hours without shelter.


⦁ 3 days without water.


⦁ 3 weeks without food.


The main point of remembering the survival rules of 3 is that when faced with an emergency, you should focus on the most immediate problem first.


The first rule is obvious. If you fall into an icy cold lake in the middle of winter, you have 3 minutes to get yourself out. If your buddy gets buried in an avalanche, you have only a matter of minutes to find him and dig him out.


For other non-life threatening emergencies such as getting lost in the woods, you should probably focus on building a shelter before anything else. Same goes for finding water. Yes, you might be thirsty and hungry but you aren’t going to make it through the night unless you get going on that lean-to and start a fire.


And before you even head outdoors, the most important thing you could do to increase your chance of survival is to make sure that someone knows where you are going and when you will be back.


Give them exact details of where you are going, the trail you plan to follow, when you will return, the vehicle you are driving (and where you plan to park) and how many people will go with you – do not go alone.


If they don’t know you are missing, they can’t look for you. After several days, someone might realize you are missing, but they will not know where to start looking and if you can’t find water or shelter, then it’s too late.

Columbia Outdoors