Earth Sciences

How do I escape from quicksand?
Answered by Discovery Channel
  • Discovery Channel

    Discovery Channel

  1. You can find quicksand in almost any part of the world, and although it may pose frustration to an untrained adventurer, most of the time, an encounter with quicksand is not especially dangerous. Quicksand is ordinary sand or any grainy soil that has been saturated with water to the point that there is minimal friction between particles. The waterlogged soil shifts more quickly in this semi-liquid state, and it can't support any significant weight on its surface. Quicksand tends to occur where sand is liquefied and then agitated, either by underground water flowing upward or by an earthquake. According to the New South Wales Geological Survey's Dr. Larry Barron, the "quickness" of quicksand is enhanced by vibration (like the kind provided by the tremors of an earthquake). Quicksand is most likely to occur on riverbanks and beaches, near underground springs or in marshes.

    Quicksand is denser than water - - it usually measures 125 pounds per cubic foot (2 grams per cubic centimeter). If the human body can float on water, it can easily float on quicksand. If you find yourself trapped in quicksand, one of the most dangerous things to do is panic. Do not thrash or struggle. Instead, use slow movements to bring yourself to the surface, and then just lie back. You should float easily, and you can then paddle to safety. Remember not to make sudden or violent movements. The more and faster you move, the farther into the sand you'll force yourself. Most of the time, quicksand is only a few feet deep, so it's usually impossible to drown unless you fall in head first. The "Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook" explains one of the reasons quicksand can be difficult to escape: When you try to pull yourself out of quicksand, you're working against a vacuum. Increase your surface area by leaning over and spreading your arms and legs - - this will help you float.

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