What Does It Take To Survive? Survival Math

Survival math is easy. So, what does it take to survive?

Example: Rita Chrétien survived seven weeks stranded in the mountains of northern Nevada on stream water, trail mix, and candy. There are many accounts of her amazing story, but here is one of them if you want to read more Handwritten notes detail rescued Canadian woman’s ordeal.

Let’s look at some basic survival math.

Math Calculation #1: 3 Days / 3 Weeks

This means the average adult can survive three days without water and three weeks without food.

Math Calculation #2: ½ gallons of water and 600 calories.

This represents the minimum intake of water and calories for an average adult.

What goes into a basic nutrition readiness baseline?


Water, water, water!!! Did I say water? You MUST have drinking water.

The average person can survive on about a half a gallon of water per day if not engaged in heavy physical activity in hot weather. There are many ways to make sure that you have drinking water. While we immediately think about bottled water, there are other ways to prepare. If you live in a condo, apartment, or single family home, you likely have a hot water heater. Most hot water heaters hold about 40 gallons of potable water. That adds up to about 80-days’ worth of drinking water for one person.

Another way to collect water in an emergency is to fill up your bathtub(s). While this might not sound inviting to drink, it can be make drinkable with a little bleach. However, you can also use this as a means to conserve any potable water you have on-hand by using the bathtub water for flushing the toilet or washing up. That’s why we include a bathtub water storage container that holds drinking water in our shelter-in-place kit. This way, there is no worry about the water being drinkable.

What about food?

While the average person can survive around three weeks without food, it will not be fun. The average person needs a minimum of 600 to 1000 calories per day.

Now, look around your kitchen. You are probably going to see that you have already established a nutrition readiness base. Let’s take a quick look at some things that you might have in your cabinets and see how if you could survive for a couple of days.

FoodSize (oz.)ServingsCaloriesTotal Calories
Tomato Soup10.752.590225
Split Pea Soup11.52.5180450
Chicken w/Rice Soup10.52.580200
Chicken Noodle Soup10.752.560150
Vegetable Soup19280160
Refried Beans (canned)16490360
Baked Beans (Lg can)286130780
Ramen Noodles32190380
  Total Calories2705 
  Days of Survival     3 

Of course, the possibilities are endless, but you get the point. And, while this may not be what you are used to eating over several days, you can see that it would be possible to supply the minimum caloric intake necessary to survive for a few days. And, with a little planning, you can have that must-have ready supply of potable water.

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