The Rule of Threes – why were they created?

The rule of threes… it is something that is regularly mentioned in the world of Preppers.  Where does it come from?  I have searched and I am unable to find a primary source for the quote.  I suspect it originated from military survival training.  I have checked out some of the old military training films, yet they don’t discuss it.  Maybe one of you reading this has some information on this.

An image from the 1944 Jungle Survival film for the US Airforce.

What is the rule of threes?  It appears to be a short, helpful guide which was created with the intention of reminding people to focus on the immediate priorities in a survival situation.  This is how the list appeared the first time I saw it, so I suspect it was the original list.

You can survive 3 hours without shelter

You can survive 3 days without water

You can survive 3 weeks without food

It was a list of three items, and it was easy to remember.  Basically, it boils down to this… when in a survival situation (lost in the wilderness, etc.), you need to look at what you require to get through it.  Rather than spend time hunting down a meal, you need to find a place to take shelter from the elements.  After that, you need a source of drinkable water… finally, you can seek a source of food.  This list serves the purpose well of reminding the person in danger of where they should focus their attention.

Since learning of the list, I have read some other lists of “Rule of threes” which contain the following.

You can survive 3 seconds without blood

You can survive 3 minutes without air

You can survive 3 hours without shelter

You can survive 3 days without water

You can survive 3 weeks without food

You can survive 3 months without security.

You can survive 3 years without love/hope/human contact

Seriously… who puts these lists together?  3 years without love?  3 seconds without hope?  I don’t understand the motive behind placing such items in the list.  How would someone die after three years without love/human contact?  It really irritates me that people are pushing this type of information.

Also, 3 months without Security?  I found this on the Reddit “Preppers” thread in their introduction section.  It annoys me… why not 2?  Does something happen at the three month mark which will kill a person?   Do enemies spawn from thin air and attack?

The “Air” addition makes a little sense… although it isn’t helpful when you are drowning.  I doubt someone drowning would forget that they need to breath and instead start looking for food.

I can understand some of the additions… 3 seconds without blood makes sense… although it is stupidly placed in the list.  It is important to focus on a wound, rather than a shelter.  I don’t think it needs to be in the list, yet it does make sense.

The additions of Hope and love… they really make me annoyed.  It just appears like someone trying to shoe-horn in their belief system into a useful tool.

The Rule of threes are a great tool to help you remember to focus on the most vital requirements to your survival.  I would recommend using this useful tool as a reminder when you really need it.  Don’t be caught up in the additions people keep making for their own purposes.  I guess it is similar to a tool, like an axe.  Some people use and put away, while others look for specialised axes with double heads, or rubber grips.  It is still a useful tool, despite the accessories people add to it.  Just remeber why it was created and you will use it correctly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *