Life Expectancy: A Wilderness Mentality

In this article, I would like to cover some basic principles about wilderness mentality and the difference in your average life expectancy in an emergency situation compared to regular life. According to the latest studies the average life expectancy of an American male is 76 years old and 81 years for females. When you are plunged into a self-rescue or survival situation, it is my opinion that your maximum life expectancy is anywhere between 3 minutes and 3 weeks.

Why is this you ask? I will explain, using a common system, (From the Pathfinder School), known as the Rule of 3’s. A human being can only survive roughly: 3 Minutes without air before dying of asphyxiation, 3 Hours without shelter from the elements before dying of exposure, 3 Days without water before dying of dehydration,  and 3 Weeks without food before dying of starvation.

This changes the way you look at the choices you make as you are trying to stay alive in a serious self-rescue situation. A few friends of mine posted a video on how to pasteurize water using just a plastic water bottle on youtube. I was impressed by it. The water itself can be purified over open flame in the bottle without the plastic being melted. This is a fantastic way to take suspect water that could have any number of viruses, bacteria, parasites, etc, with materials that can often be found in the wild.

The comments on the video from people who watched it were a tad alarming to me. I remember several people saying, “You can’t boil water in plastic! That releases chemicals into the water and can give you cancer! You guys are being totally irresponsible and should be ashamed of yourselves!!!”

Now to me, I think that if you are truly in a dire situation and you have the option to choose: 1: Use plastic bottle to purify water over flame, reduce risk of dehydration and increase chance of getting cancer in 20+ years. Or 2: Do not use water bottle to purify water, reduce risk of cancer in 20+ years, but increase risk of getting viral, bacterial, or parasitic exposure resulting in higher chance of diarrhea and vomiting that increases dehydration, which will eventually lead to death within days.

Personally, to me the choice is pretty clear. I always try to remember when I go out into the wild my maximum life expectancy is no more than 3 weeks. Learn the skills, and put them into practice. Thanks for reading.

~ AJA

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