Monday, December 20, 2010

Survival Priorities

Many people are familiar with the "Survival Rules of 3". They are:
  • You can survive 3 minutes without oxygen
  • You can survive 3 hours without shelter
  • You can survive 3 days without water
  • You can survive 3 weeks without food
Those rules have been discussed, argued, and studies over for some time and have held pretty firm. As many will mention, depending on the environment you are in, one or two of those may shift in their priority. Water is more important in Arizona then shelter is, because it rarely rains during certain times of the year and the arid environment will literally suck the water out of your body with each passing minute. 

So having said that, you'll need to evaluate the climate of the region where you live and plan accordingly. Growing up in the South I have never carried a blanket in the trunk of my car, but I've had several friends who grew up doing just that because they knew if the car broke down then they were "on the clock" when it came to fighting the cold and hypothermia.
I think that most people agree with the first 3 of those (oxygen, shelter, water). I mean, they seem pretty reasonable. The rule about food gets a lot of discussion, though, particularly from "us" Americans. We love our food, don't we. Many people argue that you simply can't go 3 weeks without food. It might as well by 3 months if it's going to be 3 weeks.

Time and time again this rule stands up to the test. In Haiti earlier this year, after a devastating earthquake, we watched day after day tick away with little to no aid reaching those displaced by this catastrophe, and yet, people were surviving. Now, of course, I know that the people of Haiti didn't just "stop eating" the moment after the earthquake, but there certainly wasn't a reliable food supply for a vast portion of the population for a long time. I bring this up because there is an old saying that "Society is only three meals away from Revolution." Now, while that may be true, I want to dispel the myth that you are three meals away from starving to death. Far from it. The "three meals away" quote was referring to the speed at which people panic, not the speed at which you will die from lack of food.

I could fill a whole book (and people have done just that) on survival and food intake. The major point I'm trying to make is that food is a much lower priority than you think. You can quite literally go 2 or 3 weeks  (not taking into account pre-existing health conditions, age, gender, and relative level of fitness, and of course - level of exertion) without food before you die. Which should make you reconsider several things.

I watched this one episode of Dual Survival (Discovery Channel), which will be starting it's 2nd Season here in a few weeks. In this one episode Dave Cantebury discovered a large bees hive and decided he wanted to get some of the honey from that hive because he was hungry. I believe he spent over an hour and a half in preparation to protect himself so that he could safely get to the honey. He ended up getting stung anyway, and the amount of honey he got in exchange didn't appear to be a lot. So, instead of spending that hour and a half getting closer to being spotted and saved, he risked (at the very least) severe illness or allergic reaction and possibly even death (I mean come on, people die from bee attacks all the time - these guys are no joke) for what amounts to about 300 calories of honey...which he split with his survival buddy.

Unfortunately, Dave does this on more than one occasion, in an another episode he literally wrestles and kills an alligator for food. They were rescued later that day. Ha ha ha. He risked life and limb for nothing. Because his stomach told him it was time to eat.

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