Unusual Ways to Die: Quicksand

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Tim is a licensed life insurance agent with 23 years of experience helping people protect their families and businesses with term life insurance. He writes and creates stuff for QuickQuote and other insurance and financial websites. You can find him on Twitter.

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UPDATED: Feb 25, 2020

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Imagine you’re hiking along a trail with a friend one evening in late July. The sun is getting ready to set, and the air is starting to cool. You begin to pick up the pace, as you need to make it back to your car before dark. Then, all of the sudden, your feet start to sink into the ground! You panic and struggle to get out, but that only makes you sink faster. You grab onto your friend’s hand and pull with all your might, but it’s no use – you’re going under! Your friend sees your hand slip under the sand and then poof – you’re gone.

The Reality of Quicksand

Well, at least that’s how it happens in Hollywood. In reality, quicksand is usually only a few feet deep, and what you see on the big screen rarely happens in real life. Quicksand is made of just ordinary sand, or very fine sand mixed with water. This mush allows you to sink because it cannot support significant weight. When you step into quicksand, the sand and water will separate to form higher density regions of sand. Although the quicksand will not exceed “suck” you under if you panic and struggle you can pull yourself in deeper.

Those people that happen to die in quicksand do not typically die from suffocating, but rather from exposure to the elements due to being stranded. Some may drown in quicksand if stuck in a spot near a large body of water, or a rising tide. Quicksand is often found near rivers, lakes, marshes and on beaches. Statistics on deaths from quicksand are difficult to come by. However, that doesn’t mean it can’t happen.

How to Get Out Alive

If you find yourself stuck in quicksand, the most important thing to do is stay calm. The human body is less dense than quicksand, so your body will tend to float on top. Try to position yourself on your back and very slowly start to wriggle your feet to let in enough water to loosen the sand. The key is to do this very slowly. As the sand loosens, you should be able to gradually work your way out.

Even if you do panic and struggle, you most likely will not sink lower than your waist. You may be stuck, but you won’t go under completely. Hopefully, you aren’t ‘stuck’ in the middle of nowhere when it happens!

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