In the Wilderness Essentials Wilderness Survival Setting Priorities

“What You Should Know Before You Leave the Comfort of Your Home “Because you never know when the day before … Is the day before. Prepare for tomorrow.” ― Bobby Akart.

My 2 Cents

Okay You Have Admitted There is a Problem, Now What? Things are not looking familiar, the weather is changing for the worse, you have gotten separated from your group, or you are wet and cold.
The clock is now ticking before you are in a full blown survival situation. Now is not the time to waste time on that which is not a priority. This article is about how to set priorities.

I will address setting priorities when injured in a later article, there is a set of protocols when injury is involved that must be addressed which is out of the scope of this article.
If someone is after you to do you harm or you have been separated from your resources because natural or manmade disasters are subjects covered in later volumes.

A Survival Situation is 1. You are Hurt or Sick 2. You are Lost 3. Your body can no longer maintain 98 degrees 4. You have been separated from your resources 5. Someone is after you to do you harm or wants something you have If any of the above is true the clock is now ticking but you need to Keep a clear head.

Rule Number One: Do Everything You Can to Not Put Yourself into a Survival Situation Most people get themselves in trouble because they do not have the proper skills, ignored their training, or did not properly prepare for the trip or situation. However, even the best of us will have a recently inspected tire blow, fuel line rupture, roll an ankle, wake up with the flu, or make a mistake in navigation. Things do happen. The key is to minimize those unnecessary risks and have the proper skill set before entering a situation that could easily become a survival situation. Most importantly don’t make a minor error turn into a major survival situation.


This acronym is taught to all hunter education students by the department of fish and wildlife in all of the states that I know of. It is meant to stop panic, truly the number one killer in most situations. It stands for Sit Think Observe and Plan all good things to do. The problem is, without proper training and practice to develop the skill set and the tools necessary to perform those skills no matter how long you sit, think, observe and plan you will now find yourself simply starting to panic while sitting down. You must get training and practice those skills under the worst conditions but in a controlled situation. Such as in your backyard or in a workshop with others that can help you if you fail.

There Are No Hard and Fast Rules for First Steps in Survival

If you are lost and there is plenty of time get out the map, your compass, and altimeter and use your training to pinpoint yourself on the map and get yourself un-lost. If you have stepped off the trail and got disorientated or rolled an ankle a few sets of three toots on your whistle might get someone to find you and give you the little assistance you need without some agency having to fill out an incident report. However, if the weather has turned, sunset is approaching, or you are wet or getting cold or hot you are getting in to the realm of needing to set some serious priorities.

The Rules of Threes

This basic survival saying needs to get into your head what your priorities must be to survive. The times vary for each person, but the point is to not waste time on something that is a low priority. The Survival Rules of Threes is how long can you survive without these four priorities.

You have…

  1. Three Minutes to get air
  2. Three Hours to find or build shelter and make fire
  3. Three Days to find or make potable water
  4. Three weeks to find or make food

That being said, don’t waste daylight looking for food when you will die from exposer during the night and don’t waste or trash the state park putting up an elaborate lean-to made with cut saplings when all you need is a lean-to with poncho and para-cord that you can put up in less than 5 minutes. If the next day it is evident that you are not going to be able to get out without help you need to shift gears and make it easy for those looking for you to find you and find or make potable water. Only if the situation warrants that you will be isolated from your resources will you need to think about food. As you continue with these classes all these skills and more will be covered in depth. Other than finding food, medical trauma, and evading capture will be covered in this basic text. The deeper you go in the deeper your necessary training will need to be, which is all covered in later volumes.

This volume and this class will cover the skills, tools, and supplies necessary to:

  • Navagation
  • Building a Safe and Ethical Fire
  • Building Shelter
  • Signaling for Hep
  • Locating and Making Potable WATER\
  • First Aid
  • Assembling a survival kit
"The enemy is anybody who's going to get you killed, no matter which side he is on."
—Joseph Heller,
"You don't drown by falling in the water; you drown by staying there."
—Edwin Louis Cole