How Many People Have Died in Quicksand?

January 25, 2024

We've all seen it in movies, and perhaps even experienced it in real life: a person steps into quicksand along a beach or forest trail, gets stuck, struggles like hell until they sink under and suffocate. The reality, however, is much less dramatic. The truth is that people die in quicksand far more often when they panic and try to fight their way out or, in the case of coastal bodies of quicksand, become trapped and drown if the tide comes in.

This is because quicksand is actually nothing more than ordinary sand that becomes dangerous when it's oversaturated with water. The water causes the sand to liquefy and lose its structure, creating a dense mixture that traps people underneath. It's a lot more dangerous than normal sand because the friction between sand grains that would normally resist your weight is lubricated by the water.

To escape, experts suggest that you move slowly and deliberately back and forth to create a space around your feet in the sand. Eventually, the sand will loosen and you'll be able to retreat to firm ground. If you're unable to escape, experts recommend using a rope or getting help from someone on firm ground.

One final note: The only natural form of quicksand that can actually kill you is something called liquefaction, which occurs when an earthquake or other disturbance stirs up sediments and mixes them with water. This can cause buildings and other structures to collapse.


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