How to escape quick sand

When walking in quicksand country, carry a stout pole—it will help you get out should you need to.

As soon as you start to sink, lay the pole on the surface of the quicksand.

Flop onto your back on top of the pole. After a minute or two, equilibrium in the quicksand will be achieved, and you will no longer sink.

Work the pole to a new position: under your hips and at right angles to your spine. The pole will keep your hips from sinking, as you (slowly) pull out first one leg and then the other. Take the shortest route to firmer ground, moving slowly.

Quicksand is just ordinary sand mixed with upwelling water, which makes it behave like a liquid. However, quicksand—unlike water—does not easily let go. If you try to pull a limb out of quicksand, you have to work against the vacuum left behind. Here are a few tips:

•The viscosity of quicksand increases with shearing—move slowly so the viscosity is as low as possible.
• Floating on quicksand is relatively easy and is the best way to avoid its clutches. You are more buoyant in quicksand than you are in water. Humans are less dense than freshwater, and saltwater is slightly more dense. Floating is easier in saltwater than freshwater and much easier in quicksand. Spread your arms and legs far apart and try to float on your back.

—Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht

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