Will Quicksand Really Kill You?

January 11, 2016 | Reece Alvarez

Sign on beach warning of quicksand
Photo credit: MBargo/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Quicksand may not be the horrific danger we see portrayed in popular movies and television.

Whether in movies or on TV, any consumer of popular media will be familiar with tales of quicksand swallowing people and animals whole, but as is often found in movies and entertainment, the science and reality behind the fantasy don’t always add up.

In fact, studies have found it is impossible to be completely submerged in quicksand because humans are less dense than quicksand and a person would only sink to their chest before they begin to float.

But what can make quicksand deadly is its ability to trap and hold unsuspecting victims.

Quicksand occurs when fine sediment such as clay, sand, silt, or other grainy soil becomes saturated with water, typically from a subterranean source. Often these traps are found near the periphery or edge of natural water sources. Often the sand on top may appear solid, but with the added pressure of a footstep, the sand will mix with the water beneath it forming a thick sludge.

SEE ALSO: The Deadly Daddy Longlegs...?

The grainy mixture increases in viscosity as whatever is trapped in the quicksand struggles, making it extremely hard to get out of, particular if the victim is panicking and becoming exhausted.

The true killer of quicksand victims is exposure or possible drowning in nearby rising tides.

So how do you survive should you ever find yourself in this sticky mess?

Asking someone to pull you out could easily lead to injury or someone else becoming stuck as it is estimated the force necessary to pull a foot out of quicksand is the same as lifting a medium-sized car.

However, it is possible to float your way out by slowly and calmly wiggling your body into a horizontal position, according to experts.

The unflappable Bear Grylls displayed just such an escape method in one of his survival guides.

Should professional help be available, always wait for a rescue as wiggling yourself out of quicksand could take quite a while, and it is possible that the prolonged pressure of quicksand on the body could cause damage or difficulty breathing.

Hot Topics

Facebook comments