The “Other” Rule of Threes by R. Ann Parris for Preppergroups.com
Once we’ve been in the prepper world for a while, we start hearing about the survival “rule of threes”. There are exceptions and it’s broad strokes, but it’s a general way to help prioritize in an emergency — 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water, 3 weeks without food.
There’s another rule of threes some preppers ascribe to, though. It promotes the concept of having multiple ways to get to and accomplish any goal.
One of the most commonly seen examples is developing three routes for an evacuation and three ways to affect that evac — primary vehicle, public transportation, bike, ATV, packing/walkout. It applies across the board, though, from our daily lives to our disaster planning.
One of the biggest aspects for any prepper is water. You can survive on minimal water, but your capabilities decrease.
Whether we’re at home or on the move, we have to give it some consideration, and consider the season and our specific location with it. Summer or winter, consumption is up, it’s dryer, and access becomes more difficult for many, compared to wetter springs (autumn swings around). The basics are the same, though: stored water (less in pack or bag, but still carrying some), collecting water from wherever we are (rooftops, solar stills with vegetation, surface water, backups for a downed well), and making water safe through filters or chemicals, or even distilling in a simple pot with lid and catchment.
Our water access will affect our food storage — and so will our cooking capabilities.
Food and cooking are also even more situationally dependent, by person as well as region.
On the move, ready-to-eat and just-add-water options would have even greater ratios compared to “real” foods that require combining ingredients or greater cooking time, and more mess and time in both preparation and cleanup.
With limited cooking fuels and options, those ready-to-eat and just-add-water types would also take higher priority. Some backup cooking methods also lend themselves to fast-cooking griddle cakes, eggs, some cereals, and near-instant noodle or rice meals.
Likewise, if we’re planning for exertion — or sitting up keeping watch — we might give greater focus on higher-calorie foods, foods that are easy to eat, and small-snack options that allow us to eat little bits throughout the day and night rather than 2-3 heavier foods.
With food and water comes garbage and human waste.
Unless we already live a low-trash lifestyle, especially for the most-common disasters and supermarket shelf-stable foods, we’re going to generate a lot of packaging trash. If we don’t have a plan for it, that trash is likely to attract pests small and possibly large, as well as eventually start rotting and smelling, even in winter.
Summer makes smells worse and has more pests to deal with, but winter can add its own burdens due to frozen pipes and the possibility of frozen water and extreme conditions to contend with — affecting human waste as much if not more.
Solid bags, pre-scouted holding areas, and various composters, kitty litter and alternates like sawdust, and treatments are a must, along with a plan for how we’ll access them.
Communication is also a big one.
Not only do we want our everyday-disaster contacts and alternate contacts for our wider realm of personal interactions, with variable power-outage challenges, we also want ways to keep communicating after disasters, grid-down, wherever we might be using whichever modes of transportation.
Some of the radios, phone chargers, and battery chargers are options for both backpacks and basements. Some work in any “I need help” scenario inside a larger disaster of any scale — like sharp whistles, small lights, or flag systems. Some would only apply to a vehicle, whether they’re handheld or twist-crank air horns, electric radios, or large lights.
We also want to make sure those communications plans are set up and shared with teams and families for cases where we may become separated, in everyday life, the everyday disasters, and the potential of separation for major, widespread disasters with their chaos and more limited capabilities.
Three ways to get to and do anything can be a little overwhelming.
We don’t want to get too heavy-handed on redundant systems for a pack, especially, and even a vehicle evac can quickly get crowded with all the things we must have, long before we get a backup and alternate system in there for every bedding, heating, lighting, shelter, water, waste, and food category.
Sometimes our backup method and the alternatives to it may not apply to the everyday disasters like tornadoes, housefires, or income loss. Some, however, will. Some of them can even make us more efficient, especially in power use in our daily life.
As we go along, collecting gear and supplies, we want to bear that three-ways rule in mind, and keep an eye on how well-balanced our preparedness is in terms of interlocking capabilities, like food, water and cooking, or communication and various shelter-in-place and evacuation situations. In the long run, the extra thought and effort will make for more balanced, more resilient preps.