16Oct2011

How to Get out of Quicksand

How to Get out of QuicksandAlthough not common, there are people who find themselves deep in quicksand while they explore beaches, swamps, rivers, or marshy areas. Quicksand is not usually what you might see in a movie, where the suspect steps in quicksand and within minutes they’re up to their eyeballs in it.

How to Get out of Quicksand

What is Quicksand?

Quicksand can be found anywhere that the right conditions are present. Quicksand is basically: very wet sand/silt. If you step in quicksand you  might find it a quite difficult to get yourself out because as you squirm the suction of the wet sand pulls you down. Like when you stand in the water at the beach, you’ll find that your feet are slowly sinking and when you go to pull them out it’s a bit of a struggle. That is something like quicksand. Quicksand is not something to panic over, as most quicksand is no more than a couple feet deep and is not commonly fatal. Here is a a guide that will help you prevent getting stuck in quicksand as well as what to do if you get stuck in quicksand.

Prevent Getting Stuck in Quicksand

If you know that you are camping or hiking in an area where quicksand is known to be in the area. The best way to prevent getting stuck in quicksand is to walk with a walking stick. Test ground in front of you before walking further with wooden walking stick.  If ground shifts/ripples, step back quickly.

If you Get Stuck in Quicksand

If stuck, lighten your weight immediately—drop all items, empty pockets.  Use anything buoyant for flotation (e.g. wood’s buoyant). A human body is less dense (more buoyant) than quicksand, so you won’t sink as much—unless you struggle excessively (movement increases liquefaction and creates a vacuum suction underneath you). Remove shoes—footwear leads to more suction.

Most importantly, do NOT panic. That only rigidifies your body and makes you sink faster. Instead, relax muscles to stay afloat. Secondly, always breathe deeply—lungs full of air keep you afloat.

How to Get out of QuicksandIf you Start Sinking in Quicksand

If sinking, avoid frantic movements; instead, bend back. Spread bodyweight to increase buoyancy and slow sink-rate. Float on your back while slowly & carefully extricating your legs from quicksand.  (In fact, place buoyant wooden walking-stick underneath your back so that you’re laying atop it; form a “plus sign +” with the walking-stick underneath your back for flotation. Then slowly inch your body across the walking-stick while taking deep breaths until solid ground’s reached.)

The Key is to Keep Calm

GO SLOWLY; do NOT agitate quicksand—rapid movements turns firm ground into more quicksand. Besides, quicksand reacts unpredictably; moving slowly helps you more easily stop adverse reactions to avoid getting even further stuck.  REMAIN PATIENT: extrication’s slow, methodical, and could take several hours. Exhaustion’s your worst enemy, so take breaks and just float on your back when muscles tire.

However, if in dangerous tidal zones (quicksand occurs in wet, sandy areas—even beaches and tidal areas), you’re racing time. So get out quickly as possible without panicking, yet be ever mindful your movements do not hinder your efforts. Keep head high above quicksand (and incoming tide’s water).  Once legs are free, breathe deeply, and calmly inch to safety by using arms (even floating legs & toes) to slowly & smoothly propel yourself to quicksand’s banks.  Roll onto hard ground.

Hopefully this guide will be of help to you when and if you ever get stuck in quicksand. It’s better to know these things than not to know because after all, you can never predict what you what you might get stuck in.

Author: Mariecor Agravante
Edited By: CampTrip.com

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