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Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Magic Number of 3 for Staying Alive - Why Some Survive, Why Others Do Not

Poor Man Survival

Self Reliance tools for independent minded people…

ISSN 2161-5543

A Digest of Urban Survival Resources


A survival situation brings out the true, underlying personality.  Our survival kit is inside us. >Laurence Gonzales


The Magic Numbers of Staying Alive-Survival Secrets

      In 1957 the US Army produced a little beige booklet called FM 21-76 called the Field Manual for Survival, the official instructions on how to stay alive in hostile environments.  In its very first pages, the book tells soldiers that the experience of 100s of servicemen in WWII and Korea “prove that survival is largely a matter of mental outlook, with the will to survive the deciding factor.”  Without a “will to survive” your odds of surviving are greatly diminished in any grave situation – your attitude, your previous training and preparation along with the hand of God often acts as your life preserver.

   In almost any survival emergency, the US Air Force believes two magic numbers can help save your life.  In its grueling survival course at Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane, WA, the first thing that instructors drill into your head is 98.6.  Whatever you do, they say, protect your core body temperature.  They don’t even bother to attach degrees to the numerals.

Their slogan is simple:  Maintain 98.6.  It’s a top priority.  Cold and heat kills.

In a survival situation, everything else – such as food and shelter – can wait.  Once the air force bangs 98.6 into your brain, there’s one other digit it force feeds.  Every student learns the magic number 3.

Whether you’re a fighter pilot or a single mom, in a car accident or taking a walk in the park, the number 3 will keep you alive.

The Rule of 3 states that you cannot survive:

3 seconds with spirit and hope

3 minutes without air

3 hours without shelter in extreme conditions

3 days without water

3 weeks without food

3 months without companionship or love

   Air Force training emblazons the number 3 on your mind.  They make you memorize the order of the rules so that you will always know your survival priorities and be able to manage your needs.  Then they drop you off in the woods, deprive you of food, and you around till can’t think straight.  They teach you which plants to eat and which are poisonous.  They show you how to make a slingshot and hunt for dinner.  They rough you up and interrogate you like a prisoner of war.

And at the end of the 17-day course, they hope you never forget those magic numbers and keep your priorities clear and stay alive.

The Theory of 10-80-10- Why Some Survive, Why Some Do Not

   British researcher John Leach came up with a theory as to why some people survive a disaster and some do not.

First, around 10 percent of us will handle a crisis in a relative calm and rational state of mind.  Under duress, they pull themselves quickly.  They remain sharp and focused. They keep their emotions in check or what psychologists call “splitting” and it’s common among folks who keep their cool under the greatest stress…usually those who have been trained or who have innate sense to do so.

The majority of people however, 80 percent, are unable to respond in this manner – in a crisis they will become stunned and bewildered or impaired.  We find that our reasoning and thinking is difficult.  Often, we’ll behave in a mechanical manner.  [I’ve personally seen this even among mothers who panic when their child becomes injured in an accident].  We’ll develop tunnel vision, losing all sense of what is going on around us during a crisis…brainlock or analysis paralysis.

  The last group, the final 10 percent, the one group you want to avoid in an emergency [the one lifeguards fear the most].  This group does the wrong thing – they panic and react counterproductively, often making the situation worse [for everyone].

A pilot once told me, "Flying a plane is really just hours of boredom that separate a couple of moments of sheer terror."

Although it is difficult to predict one’s future behavior, even police and fire personnel don’t always know how they will react in a given situation…[as a volunteer mounted deputy in Arizona, the first time I encountered a dead body during the aftermath of a sudden flooding, I was frozen in amazement for several moments before I called it in].  No matter what category you think you’ll fall into, experts say you can improve your odds of survival through practice to improve your crisis response effectiveness.

   Your success as a survivor depends on your ability to shut off the fear alarm and to channel purposeful action that reduces the danger you are facing…throwing the switch from I’m going to die to I’m going to survive!

Yours for better living,

Bruce ‘the Poor Man’


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1 comment:

Larry said...

Most people I know will panic at the drop of a hat or the first strike of thunder! Panic is what kills people in crowds.