We’ve all seen it in movies: a person falls into quicksand and starts sinking well into the muck only to disappear without a trace, never to be seen again (OK, sometimes for dramatic purposes a hand if left floating on the surface). But is this a real life scenario though? Is this what actually happens when you fall in quicksand?
Well, despite what you’ve seen in Hollywood, it’s impossible to sink in quicksand as depicted in movies.
And here’s why. (the article continues after the ad)
Quicksand in basically sand that’s been saturated with water and therefore behaves as a liquid. This creates a mixture that’s actually denser than the human body and even though you can actually get stuck in it, you won’t be pulled down to the bottom – you will float on the surface. That’s because our torso contains the lungs that are enough to keep our upper body out of trouble. But getting stuck in quicksand is quite dangerous because you can die from dehydration or from an incoming tide. So how do you get out?
First of all, let’s debunk another common myth: moving won’t cause you to further sink but getting out of it will take a while. Don’t panic, that’s absolutely reasonable. In fact, a scientific study published in Nature found that in order to extract your foot from quicksand at a rate of 0.4 inches (1 cm) per second you need to apply an equal force of that needed to lift a midsize car (around 3,500 pounds or roughly 1,600 Kg).
So, what should you do when you happen to fall in quicksand?
The first thing you need to do is to drop your backpack or anything heavy you carry in order to reduce your overall weight. (the article continues after the ad)
Breathing deeply will help you relax but will also help you become more buoyant. This is because when your lungs are full of air it’s impossible to sink.
LAY DOWN AND MOVE HORIZONTALLY
By laying down you basically spread out your weight making it more difficult to sink even further. This will help you to slowly extricate your legs and by using your arms you can gradually reach to safety.
Here’s a video of Bear Grylls escaping quicksand:
If you like what you read, then you will definitely love this one: This Is How You Survive A Drowning Attempt
Photo: Pierce Martin / Flickr
Photoshop: I’m A Useless Info Junkie
Sources: How Deadly Is Quicksand? | Rheology: Liquefaction of quicksand under stress | How to Get out of Quicksand | Bear Grylls Sahara Quicksand