Several members of the OutThere Colorado team recently paid a visit to the Survival University, hosted by Colorado Mountain Man Survival, to learn a few basics about what to do when things go from bad to worse on the trail. One of the topics we covered was prioritizing concerns when disaster strikes, something that can help direct effort and energy toward the most pressing needs first. Not only will this help you avoid making mistakes out of panic, it will also help make sure that you’re approaching the unfortunate situation in the most logical way possible. It’s really quite simple…just follow the rule of 3’s.

1. Health (3 minutes)

The most pressing issue in any survival situation is taking care of immediate health concerns. If you’ve got an issue that’s preventing breathing or you’re excessively bleeding, turn your focus to fixing this problem first. The rule of thumb is that you’ve likely got roughly 3 minutes. Issues of health immediately increase the severity of a survival situation.

2. Exposure (3 hours)

Following health, the most pressing issue faced in a wilderness survival scenario is the exposure, and you’ll need to do something about that. Get yourself out of the elements and stay warm (or cool in hot weather climates). Doing so will allow you to preserve your body’s resources, such as energy and water levels. Start building your shelter and thinking about a fire if needed.

How to survive in Colorado
Photo Credit: Stephen Martin, OutThere Colorado

3. Water (3 days)

One common mistake that many people in a survival situations make is immediately hunting for water. In most instances, rescue will come before water is needed – especially in a crowded Colorado landscape. Water is something to be aware of, but you’ve got three days to figure out this issue. It’s important to note that rushing to find water can lead to poor decision making. If you consume liquid that makes you sick, you’ve immediately escalated the severity of the situation.

boiling water
One easy way to purify water is to boil it in a stainless steel container. Obviously this gets hot. Tie a small piece of wood to a shoelace and “fish” the bottle out of the fire. Photo Credit: Stephen Martin, OutThere Colorado.

4. Food (3 weeks)

Very rarely does food become an issue in a survival scenario thanks to modern search and rescue techniques. This should be your last concern if you get lost or stranded on the trail. You’re better off saving your energy over trying to hunt down a few calories. Determining what you’re able to eat can also be dangerous if you lack experience in doing so. Make the wrong choice when it comes to what you’re dining on and food poisoning could cause a simple survival scenario to instantly become more dire.

If you’re interested in learning more about survival skills, check out the classes offered by The Survival University.

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