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How to Avoid Sinking into Quicksand

The next time you're hiking in an area prone to develop quicksand, you can use these tips to safely escape from the muck.


  • Step 1: Tread carefully Walk slowly, barefoot if possible, and test the ground with a long stick. If the ground appears unstable, avoid the area.
  • TIP: Quicksand can be found in areas where there are underground streams that lubricate sand, decreasing the friction between sand grains.
  • Step 2: Relax Relax and don't panic. If you panic and thrash about, you will sink further and faster.
  • Step 3: Lighten your load Move slowly to get rid of anything you are carrying, such as a backpack, or anything weighing you down. If you can, remove your shoes -- especially shoes that may create suction when you pull them out of the quicksand.
  • Step 4: Breathe deeply Take deep breaths. Breathing deeply will help you remain calm, and will also fill your lungs with air, helping you maintain buoyancy.
  • Step 5: Take frequent breaks Take frequent breaks to rest. If you exhaust yourself trying to get out, you'll make it harder on yourself. If you feel your muscles getting tired, float on your back for a while.
  • TIP: You may not have time to rest if you're in a tidal zone. If the tide is coming in, you have to free yourself before it gets too close.
  • Step 6: Use your stick Use your stick to help you get out. Lay the stick on the surface and use it to push or pull yourself free. If the stick sinks instead of floating, let it go to avoid sinking deeper. Once you're free, alert everyone else in your party so they can avoid getting stuck.
  • FACT: Earthquakes can increase underground water pressure and generate quicksand.

You Will Need

  • Stick
  • Slow movements
  • Calmness
  • Deep breaths
  • Breaks

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