This AP News headline really caught my attention: Quicksand doesn’t just happen in Hollywood. It happened on a Maine beach.

Say what?! My wife and I were just talking about going to Maine with our kids next week so of course I read the article.

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When I think of quicksand, I immediately think of Indiana Jones (embedded clip above), Gilligan’s Island (embedded clip below) and other Hollywood productions, as the AP headline indicated. Thanks to moviemakers, growing up in Connecticut, I was so worried about coming across quicksand that at one point in my life, I carried a long rope.

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I did some research and according to the local NBC 12 News affiliate in Phoenix, “It turns out that quicksand is actually quite common around the world and even exists in Arizona.”

Eagle Creek, the backpacking company based in Colorado, covers the topic on their website: “Though it’s not quite as deadly as it appears in movies, quicksand can still throw an unsuspecting hiker for a loop. It’s nature’s version of pulling the rug out from under you, after all, and it’s a rare enough occurrence that can cause even the most seasoned hiker to panic.”

Back to the AP News story: “Jamie Acord was walking at the water’s edge at Popham Beach State Park over the weekend when she sunk to her hips in a split second, letting out a stunned scream. She told her husband, “I can’t get out!” She later said, “I couldn’t feel the bottom” and “I couldn’t find my footing.”

Fortunately for Mrs. Acord, her husband pulled her to safety. So what happened? It turns out that quicksand is supersaturated sand. Jim Britt, the department communications director for the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry said Mrs. Acord, “had stepped on a pocket of supersaturated sand caused by the changing direction of the nearby Morse River. Instead of flowing out to sea, the river is directed along the beach because of erosion caused by impactful winter storms.”

In an interview with NBC’s Maine local affiliate, Britt explained, “The sand is saturated with water. It’s even more unstable and very easy to find yourself sinking into it.”

Britt said, “warning signs are expected to go up across the beach with tips on how to get out of supersaturated sand.” Fortunately, unlike in the movies “the sand won’t swallow a person whole. But if someone does get stuck, they should stay calm, lean back, and wiggle their toes to get out.”

The Eagle Creek website says that awareness is key and hikers should know quicksand danger zones. They advise: “Be on the lookout for quicksand around wet terrain near riverbanks, lakes, swamps, marshes, tidal flats, glaciers, or underground springs. Be extra careful after a large rainstorm.”

Eagle Creek offers these 6 quick tips for escaping quicksand:
1. Make yourself as light as possible—toss your bag, jacket, and shoes.
2. Try to take a few steps backwards.
3. Keep your arms up and out of the quicksand.
4. Try to reach for a branch or person’s hand to pull yourself out.
5. Take deep breaths.
6. Move slowly and deliberately.

Find more useful tips from Eagle Creek here.


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