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Avoiding and Escaping Quicksand

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Quicksand is a hidden danger in the woods, ready to suck you in and hold you tight. While drowning in quicksand is not as common as Hollywood makes it out to be, it still creates dangers such as dehydration, sunstroke, hypothermia, and drowning as the tide returns. It can also leave you unable to fend off hungry predators. These are enough reasons to learn how to avoid and escape from quicksand.


Quicksand is found throughout the United States, particularly by the coast, but also inland on riverbanks, by lakes and other freshwater, and in marshes. It can be formed anywhere that hidden underground water escapes, saturating the soil above.


Quicksand is simply regular sand that has been soaked with water to the point that it becomes a thick, muddy pool which cannot support weight. Or… rather not weight, but movement. It is liquid soil. Quicksand often forms when grainy soil – or sand – is inundated with an outside water source, such as an underground spring, a lake, or even the ocean. Consider when you stand on the beach where the waves hit the sand. If you stand still as the waves continue to ebb and flow, the vibration from the waves will eventually bury your feet in this form of “quicksand.”


If you lie still in quicksand, you will not sink. Your body is less dense than quicksand, causing you to rise to the top. But if you struggle, you will displace the sand/water beneath you, causing you to be pulled deeper and deeper.


The first step to saving yourself from quicksand, like most dangers, is prevention. If you find yourself in unfamiliar territory or known quicksand spots, carry a thick walking stick. Test any questionable areas. Do not walk in large muddy sections of ground if it can be avoided.


If you do find yourself sinking in quicksand, your first step is to stop moving. Lay the pole on top of the quicksand behind your back, and lower your body onto the pole. Find your balance and lie still. Slowly move the pole towards your hips, so that you are able to remove your legs from the substance one leg at a time. Pulling limbs from quicksand is not an easy task. The thick substance does not easily flow into an empty space, so as you pull your leg from the depths of the quicksand, you will feel a vacuum pulling back. Move very slowly to allow the quicksand time to fill in the spot where your leg once was. Climb out of the muddy hole at the closest piece of solid ground. Do not try to cross the entire patch and certainly do no panic. Rapid movements and struggling will only pull you deeper.

Don’t get stuck in a muddy trap or a financial hole. Visit Jason Hartman’s website for sound advice on getting out of an unstable situation and onto solid fiscal ground. (Top image: Flickr | electricnerve)

The Holistic Survival Team


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