How to escape quicksand

Try to escape from the quicksand in a fast but calm way. The more you fight, the deeper you can sink.
Henrik Sorensen/Getty Images

  • If you get stuck in quicksand, remember that it is impossible to drown in it.
  • Instead, try to calmly release yourself by gently kicking your legs back and forth.
  • This should loosen the dense sand around you, allowing you to slowly free yourself.

This article is primarily transcribed from a 2017 Insider video on “How to Escape Quicksand: It’s Easier Than You Think.” Some of the information has been updated.

If you find yourself stuck in quicksand, the first thing to remember is not to panic.

It’s easy to sink deeper into these things if you get agitated, and just one mouthful of quicksand could cause suffocation, according to the book “Extreme Encounters.”

Quicksand is not how Hollywood traditionally portrays it. You’re not going to drown.

In fact, most quicksand pools are only a few inches or a few feet deep. Also, it is impossible to drown in quicksand because humans float in it. That’s because the density of our bodies is lower than that of quicksand, says “Extreme Encounters.”

What is quicksand?

Quicksand is a mixture of sand and water, according to Scientific American. What sets it apart from your average sand pile is the shape of the sand grains and how they fit together.

“In normal sand, the grains are packed close together to form a rigid mass, with around 25 to 30 percent of the (void) space between the grains filled with air or water,” SciAm reports.

But if the shape of the arena is more elongated than spherical, you can increase those voids from 30 to 70 percent.

“This arrangement is similar to a house of cards in that the space between the cards is significantly greater than the space occupied by the cards,” according to SciAm.

As a result, the arena looks solid on the surface, but is very sensitive to pressure and can easily collapse, causing the surface to cave in under your feet.

What makes quicksand so dangerous is its viscosity. Once disturbed, quicksand becomes much more viscous, trapping whatever it engulfs. Here’s how to get out:

How to escape quicksand

Don’t ask your friend to take you out. They will only be able to dislodge its top half since the pressure required to remove it is the same force required to lift a small car, according to National Geographic.

Instead, if possible, try to make small back and forth movements with your legs, which should loosen up the sand around you. Lose your shoes if you must.

Next, if it’s not too deep, you can try lying on your back. The more you distribute your weight across the surface, the harder it is to sink further. Then you can try to turn your back in your free way.

Another option instead of lying on your back is, if you have access to firmer ground, lean forward and crawl while gently kicking your legs. Here’s how wildlife guide Hazen Audel escaped the quicksand in an episode of National Geographic’s “Primal Survivor.”

Step away from the quicksand once you reach solid ground, and you should be clear of the sticky situation.

Another piece of advice is to never enter quicksand territory without a stick or pole. You can rest the pole on the surface of the quicksand, ease your weight, and slowly move your way out, according to “Extreme Encounters.”

Watch the original video here: