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Basic survival rules everyone should know

Updated on July 25, 2013

Anyone who takes the time to learn the basic outdoor survival skills and carries a survival kit has no reason to fear the outdoors.

If you have access to cable TV or netflix, take the time to watch some of the survival shows they have available. One thing you will learn is that if you know what you're doing, being stranded in the outdoors is not an experience you need to fear.

The Rule Of Threes

How long you can survive
Three Minutes
Three Hours
Three Days
Three Weeks
The Survival Rule Of Threes. Knowing this simple rule will help you prioritize your survival efforts and help you realize you might not be in as bad a situation as you originally thought.


Lets take a look at the Rule of Threes and how it apply to you in a survival situation. We will go into more detail on each of these rules in future posts.

Three minutes without oxygen

This is not usually an issue in a survival situation, however, basic first aid skills are an important part of being prepared.

A good source for information on dealing with wilderness medical emergencies is the Boy Scout Handbook.

A simple shelter and a small fire could save your life in a survival situation


Three Hours without shelter

If the weather is clear and warm, shelter is not as critical as is would be in sever conditions. Still, regardless of the weather, it is a good idea to build a fire and shelter. One of the instructions given to children, should they become lost, is "Hug a tree." The reasoning behind this advise is that it's usually easier to find someone who is lost if they stay put. Building a fire and shelter will give you a reason to stay put.

If you wait until you need a shelter or fire to start building one, it may be too late. You may be too cold or tired to get a fire going or find and gather the materials needed to build a shelter.

In a survival situation a fire and shelter are the most important things to keep you alive.

Finding a safe source of water is much more important than finding food


Three days without water

Having a good supply of safe drinking water is important, but not critical, if you will be rescued within a day or two. The exception might be a hot desert situation. Still, you might be better off taking steps to conserve water than actively looking for water in hot conditions.

There is no reason not to carry some way to purify water. This can be as simple as an empty food can to boil water or as high tech as a filter straw. Knowing how to build a solar still can provide you with a small amount of pure drinkable water.

Three weeks without food

Having something good to eat is a great boost to your moral and it just makes sense to work on finding food to make your forced stay in the outdoors more pleasant. However, finding food should be one of the last items on your list of things to do. Finding or building a shelter, fire and water take priority over filling your belly.

If You Find Yourself Lost Remember To STOP



Panic can be one of the most dangerous aspects of a survival situation. A good way to reduce the chance of panicking is to remember the acronym STOP.

STOP - Force yourself to stop, sit down and take some deep breaths. You need a clear mind and confidence in your abilities to prevent a disaster.

THINK - The most important tool you can have with you in a survival situation is your mind. Think about the Rule of Threes and how it applies to your situation. Think about where you think you are and what landmarks you can see. Most importantly, think about the most critical things you need to do to survive.

OBSERVE - Look around you. Often times people who are lost panic and don't really see the big picture. Look for roads, trails, landmarks, water sources, good places to build a shelter, fuel for a fire, and more. Look in all directions. See your assets and your hazards and take your time to be sure you don't miss a thing.

PLAN - Based on your thinking and observations, and keeping in mind the Rule of Threes, make a plan on how you should proceed. What is your most immediate need? What do you need to do to stay safe? What tools do you have and how can you use them? What can you do to signal for help?

The Three Cs Of Survival

The Three Cs Of Survival

Carrying a basic survival kit with you anytime you go into the outdoors is a good idea that could save you life.
When putting together a survival kit keep in mind the Three Cs of survival. You should have with you AT LEAST ONE item that meets the Three Cs.


This can be as simple as a pocket knife or more complex like a hatchet, wire saw or machete. My personal preference is a survival knife that I carry in a survival kit. In addition to this I have a belt pouch that holds a razor knife and a multi tool with a blade. A good knife can help you build a shelter and start a fire, two skills that could save your life.


One of the best options for cordage is paracord. It's strong, versatile, and readily available. Another good choice is 50 pound test braided fishing line. Both are easy to carry and can be used to make shelters, repair equipment, build snares or catch fish.

Small diameter jute cord is another excellent option. It can be used to build a shelter, but perhaps more importantly, it can be unwound, roughed up and used as an excellent fire starting material.


Always carry a couple of different ways to start a fire. Being able to use flint and steel is a great skill, but a butane lighter is easy to carry and easy to use. Practice building a small fire in a variety of different conditions so you will have the confidence you need in your ability to start a fire.


Whenever you venture into the great outdoors it's a good idea to remember that you should not go alone. Take somebody with you to share your enjoyment and offer help should you be forced to face an unforeseen incident.

Always tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return. When I tell my wife I'm going to the Buckskin Mountains near Kanab she probably doesn't have a clue what I'm talking about. If for some reason I don't return at the appointed time, when she tells the rescue squad they will know where to start looking.

Here is a basic list of some good supplies to carry in a survival kit.

The size of your kit will depend on your personal preference and how you will be carrying it.

A kit to be carried in a vehicle or on a four wheeler can be much bigger, heavier and bulkier than one you would carry if you were backpacking.

Most of the items listed here are small and light weight. There is no reason you wouldn't be able to put together a kit that can be carried in fanny pack or even in your pocket.

There is a wealth of information available on ideas for survival kits. Try a couple of different containers for your kit and remember that the best tool you can take into the outdoors is your brain.

Think about what needs you might encounter, as well as what tools and equipment would help you meet those needs. Look for items that can be used to meet multiple needs.

Basic Survival Kit

Think light weight and multiple use
Fire - Waterproof matches, Disposable lighter, Fire starting rod, Fire starting material (Jute cord or rope, Petroleum jelly cotton balls), Magnifying lens

Shelter - Emergency space blanket, Heavy-duty plastic garbage bag (bright colored), 25 feet 550 paracord, 50 pound test fishing line, Knife or saw

Water - Always carry water when in the outdoors, Container for boiling water, Gallon size resealable storage bag, Water purification drops, tablets or straw

Tools - Knife, Multi tool, Compass

Personalized first aid kit - bandaids, sterile gauze pads, antibiotic ointment, antacid, pain reliever, first aid tape, any medications you need to take

Food - Emergency food dried or canned, Fishhooks, Sinkers


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    • valadhiel profile image


      3 years ago from Manila

      Your article is bookmark-worthy.

    • JessBraz profile image


      6 years ago from Canada

      Great hub!

      I liked the way you laid this hub out.. The Concept of three is really easy to remember. Sometimes when panic sets in, you just can't think clearly. Keeping it simply like this is an easy way to help keep your head clear in an emergency situation.

      If I could offer one piece of advice? You mentioned The Boy Scout Handbook. I'm not sure if you have an Amazon Affiliate Account with HP, but if you do, it might be beneficial for you as well as your readers to include an Amazon Capsule with a link to the Boy Scout Handbook. I love reading about outdoor survival skills and outdoor manuals. I had to go outside of HP and look up the Boy Scout Handbook on Amazon. If you have a capsule for it in your Hub, I could've clicked to it directly from your hub. :)

      Great work! Keep up the excellent job! I look forward to reading more of your hubs. :)


    • safetykart profile image 

      6 years ago from India

      The Concept of 3 is really interesting and easy to remember for the masses. It seems you have spent a lot of time on the outdoors, it seems to be useful, specially to survival training institutes.

      Easy to Learn and Remember is always the best method for survival.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 

      6 years ago from California

      Welcome to Hub Pages! Wish more people thought about this kind of thing.

    • Dreamhowl profile image

      Jessica Peri 

      6 years ago from United States

      This is great advice. I never knew the STOP acronym until now, but it sounds like a great way to clear your head and think. Voted up!

    • profile image

      Simon Badrick 

      6 years ago

      Good advice especially STOP. How often does panic make a situation worse

    • The Reminder profile image

      The Reminder 

      6 years ago from Canada

      Good skills and good advice that could come in hand some day.

    • epbooks profile image

      Elizabeth Parker 

      6 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      All good advice. I hike a bit, but not normally for a long period of time, however, I have forgotten to bring water and/or snacks and have regretted it. These are all great ideas- easy enough to pack into a backpack before setting on a hike! Voted up and useful!

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      6 years ago from San Diego California

      Good stuff. I've done quite a bit of hiking in the past, but luckily I have never put myself in a survival situation. This is very useful information for people who enjoy the outdoors. Short and to the point, but nicely done!


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