PARENTING: In emergencies, remember the Rule of Threes

Emergency preparation and survival enthusiasts are likely to be familiar with the Rule of Threes but it’s also a helpful set of standards for families who want to be prepared for emergencies.

The first of the Rule of Threes is three minutes without breathable air. The length of time that people can hold their breath varies considerably from person to person but, as a general rule, when it comes to asphyxiation, smoke inhalation or a potential drowning, people need to get fresh air within three minutes.

If you happen to live or work in a multi-floor building, you may want to keep a respirator mask and goggles handy. Should you have to evacuate through a smoke, dust or chemical filled stairwell, a respirator and goggles may help you breathe and see well enough to get out safely.

If your vehicle were to become submerged in water, let the car fill with water first and then swim out. You could also keep a tool in your console with a hardened metal point that allows you to break the glass of a window so that you can escape.

The next of the Rule of Threes is three hours without shelter. Of course, this is relative to your circumstances. If it’s a temperate environment without any harsh conditions, you can be without shelter for much longer but, as a rule, if you find yourself stranded in a remote area, it’s a good idea to begin thinking about shelter right away. It could take time to gather supplies and build a reliable structure, so you don’t want to wait.

If your vehicle is available and secure, it’s your best option for blocking wind, staying dry and keeping safe from wildlife. But if you have to build a shelter out of found debris, try building something that will keep you off the ground and at least block the wind.

Next is three days without water. Emergency preparation and survival expert Tom Wolfe says you should never ration water. “Always drink enough to stay hydrated,” he said. “It’s a lot easier to prevent dehydration than it is to bring someone out of dehydration.”

Although the rule is three days without water, keep in mind, your condition would likely deteriorate over the course of three days. Dehydration causes fatigue, nausea, headaches and a decrease in cognitive skills.

“Never drink any water that is questionable,” said Wolfe. “If you get sick, it will compound the problems. Always purify the water.”

Commercially made filtration straws are great to keep in your car or hiking kit. They can safely filter most fresh water sources. Boiling fresh water for three minutes also makes it drinkable.

The last of the Rule of Threes is three weeks without food but, again, “it’s easier to prevent malnutrition and starvation than it is to resolve it,” Wolfe said. Energy bars are a great thing to keep in your car, at work and even in your emergency food stores at home.

Preparing for emergencies takes time and forethought but the Rule of Threes offers a basic guideline for your planning and preparations.

Jenni Stahlmann and Jody Hagaman are mothers with nine children between them, from an attorney to a pre-schooler, and one on the autism spectrum. Together they host a nationally syndicated radio show, “POP Parenting.” They are also freelance writers and international speakers. Get more information on their website, jenniandjody.com.

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