Increasing Preparedness Planning Through the Rules of Three by SAA Joe

After reading “Patriots” and then becoming a regular reader of SurvivalBlog I quickly realized the opportunities I had to improve my preparedness.  As someone who enjoyed the outdoors I always felt I had some of the skills and materials but realized the task to have the right preparations in the right quantities was going to be a challenge.  Where do I start?  This was especially compounded with the semi-urban apartment lifestyle I live, in the worst state west of the Mississippi, and one that is sure to be disrupted by some type of event – a major earthquake at the very least.  I expect far worse to actually occur here.  Soon after seeing all of the valuable information and insight on SurvivalBlog I found a desire to contribute to those that need a process and a nudge to get going.  Many people like me would love to move to a retreat location but are still enjoying some of what cities have to offer as well as the inability to make a major lifestyle change just yet.  So, how do I start and how do I help others?    While I have been a SurvivalBlog reader I have not seen mention of the survival “Rules of 3” which I learned years ago and apply to my outdoor adventures. 

The Rules of 3 may not have the long term prepper appeal that is a big focus of this blog but it is the foundation for how I am looking at my personal journey to improved survival planning and preparation.  There are many posts talking about training for muscle memory and the need for skills or knowledge, this “mental memory” training is what I like to refer to as “instinct reinforcement” that will train your mental responses much like physical drills create muscle memory.  I hope that my adaptation to the Rules of 3 will help beginning preppers prioritize a plan to expand their preparedness while also developing a mental path that can help them build their “mental memory” along the way.   

The way I learned the survival Rules of 3 was very simple.  Generally, someone can survive:

  • 3 minutes without oxygen
  • 3 hours without shelter
  • 3 days without water
  • 3 weeks without food  

When you get to the core of survival, understanding these simple rules will prioritize and focus your survival needs during a critical situation.  Remaining calm and stopping to rationally address each of the rules in progression will greatly improve your potential for survival in any situation whether it be simple like being lost in the woods or a full TEOTWAWKI.  The odds of being someplace other than your retreat, or even your primary residence, in a SHTF scenario is overwhelming for the mass populace of our country.  While many of the sheeple out there probably could not get themselves out of a paper bag obstacle, the way I figure it is that if something happened in the middle of nowhere, in the city or at home, at least remembering the Rules of 3 allows you to stop and to bring calm and rationale thinking in an otherwise bad situation.  My additional Rules of 3 are developed to help others develop their own plan.  One caveat:  SurvivalBlog is full of material to help you prioritize the right items and quantities.  I am not going to provide a list of lists or full checklist as there are many others far better and more detailed than I could ever be in a single contribution.  My goal is to provide you with a high level map to help you achieve you preparation objectives via a simple adaptation of the most basic survival priorities.       

So, let’s start adapting the Rules of 3.  
Hopefully 3 minutes without oxygen is self explanatory.  You have to breathe to survive!    3 hours without shelter is about protection from the elements, “shelter your body”.  Staying dry first and staying warm second are two of the most important elements to address here.  Being prepared means you need to have the right protection from rain and snow and necessary layers for warmth, or methods to cool down, which are customized to your area.  Even if the lack of dry boots or warm socks might not kill me in 3 hours, I still wouldn’t want to endure that so I use the 3 hours without shelter rule for any of my kits where weather protection and warmth are a component.  For the first big step in our Rules of 3 mapping, I include components like blankets, sleeping bags, a tarp or tent and anything to keep a temporary roof over my head and warm, dry clothes on my body.  For simplicity this is also where the tools and ability to start a fire should be captured.  A knife and multi-tool as well as a flashlight come in handy at this phase.  For those more familiar with the process, this is where we start with the makings of a bug out bag or even have a nearly final bug out bag (BOB).   

3 days without water is next.  Our Rule of 3 adaptation is not to go 3 days without water but to make sure our stores begin with a minimum of 3 days worth of drinking water on hand.  Drinking water for just you for 3 days means you generally need to have 3 gallons ready (1 gallon per day).  Multiple 3 gallons by the number of people you are preparing for and you have your 3 days without water covered.  Keep in mind you will also need to plan appropriate amounts of water for hygiene and sanitation.  After you have your water needs set you should move on to a full 3 day plan.  This is when a traditional 72 hour kit or BOB should be completed.  I could not do any better than the many articles on the web about on building a BOB or 72 hour kit.  You will find A Bug Out Bag Reality Check to be a nice article to help you build and test a your kit.  

3 weeks without food.  By now you’ve built a BOB and are starting to understand the Rules of 3 as well as how to use them to increase your preparedness and to prioritize your survival needs.  You may have included some food in the previous step building your BOB (as you should have) but now is when you start taking it to the next level.  Further adapting the 3 weeks without food rules means it is time take the next step to secure and store 3 weeks of food and water.  Too many sheeple barely have 3 days of food and water, so while others are rushing to the store during everyday emergencies like recent snow/ice storms, you can be focused on other more important efforts.  3 weeks of food can be a combination of long term items and extras of everyday items that you rotate through.  Think canned goods, cereal and combinations of items seen in the many SurvivalBlog posts.  Don’t forget preparation methods and all of the associated redundancies.  The key here is to be prepared and self sufficient for 3 weeks.  By being prepared with 3 weeks of food and water, ways to prepare that food, and all of the other preparedness needs you are advancing your readiness to a new level.  The final addition to the 3 week plan is to begin looking at your weaponry and self defense needs.  At this stage it is a personal choice that must meet your situation and local limitations.  I highly suggest you have something at this point but will defer to others that are more expert in the topic for specifics.  Just don’t come knocking on my door trying to get my stuff because I was prepared and you weren’t.  You should be prepared to defend what is yours.   

Now we expand the Rules of 3 to expanding our preparations.  The kitchen pantry is full and you have a rotation plan for your extra 3 weeks of food and water.  There is a stack of gear in a corner of the second bedroom in Rubbermaid totes, duffle bags or backpacks with a printed list of individual contents in multiple locations and on your PC.  You are re-purposing some of your camping gear and are starting to think with a different mentality as it comes to being prepared.  The space in your apartment or home is getting tighter and it is time to take a step that requires more planning and more specialized planning.  Once you achieve this level I feel you can be called a “prepper”.  So let’s move into the new rules of 3.

The first new Rule of 3 is very similar to the 3 week rule.  But this is the Rule of 3 months.  The next step in your journey is to ensure your planning and preparations are enough to cover your needs for 3 months.  If the SHTF so bad that it goes into 3 months then this is a Rule of 3 phase where things are really starting to deteriorate.  While expanding your food, water and other stores to the 3 month level is not a simple or cheap task it is your priority for this stage.  This is a bridge period where you may not be able to store 3 months of water so you should have a plan or source of replenishment and water treatment.  Even more critical, at the 3 month level, your armory becomes a priority and should begin to evolve and expand based on your situation.  While it might not be time for a long range hunting rifle it is definitely time for the localized defense of a shotgun and probably a battle rifle.  Types and calibers are for you to decide and while not previously mentioned, a pistol is already in my BOB. 

My personal pistol choice is the Glock brothers where you can get a pocket size version (little brother) of a full size frame that allows for redundant ammo supply and some parts interchangeability (like magazines).  The 3 month plan also includes building more ammo and related shooting accessories into your reserves.  Other supplies and maybe some items to help others or trade can come in play here too.  It is very easy to start running out of, or missing things that you need a 3 month supply of.  This is true for others too so the insurance of an oversupply on a couple of items everyone needs will help you get 1-2 of the items you need or ran out of.   

I personally have achieved many of the needs outlined for the Rule of 3 months but I am working to fine tune the list, storage, tactical plans and redundancies needed at this stage.   When you get to this stage you too will be well above the average person out there living next door to you.    Moving from 3 months to 3 years is a very big leap.  Now we are at a true TEOTWAWKI scenario which brings us to the Rule of 3 years.  The best map to get to the 3 year mark is to continue to build from your 3 month level as you go.  Based on resources (time, talent and treasure) you may be able to leap to a one year supply of food.  Great.  Make sure you prioritize other needs next.  Check.  Now make sure your ammo and shooting supplies expand.  Or maybe, given the current political climate, you prioritize armory needs now and then move on to other needs second. 

The final objective of a true Rule of 3 years plan is really a Rural Retreat.  Having 3 years of food in your apartment will do you little good at this point but don’t get discouraged.  This is about process and planning.  The preparation road map is about building your preparedness bridge from 3 months to 3 years of readiness and determined the next step for you.  There are many stages between 3 months and 3 years that can be achieved so go for it.      

In conclusion, as referenced too many times on SurvivalBlog, we all see how evolution combined with the comforts and conveniences of the 21st century has removed many of our survival instincts. Utilizing the survival Rules of 3 will provide a preparedness map and the “mental memory” assistance to think through your needs if there is ever a time to call them into action. – Slightly Above Average (SAA) Joe