As a child, quicksand was the bits of the carpet in between the furniture that we had to dodge while leaping from couch to couch. It was always something that seemed like a far bigger deal as a child than as an adult but quicksand is real and is a very real danger. It’s not something that is thought about much, but if you are a hiker and you’re in the wilderness alone, it’s something you should prepare yourself for coming across. While quicksand isn’t nearly as dangerous as the films show it, it is a real thing and just about any silt can temporarily become quicksand if it has enough water saturation.
There have been reports of quicksand in the dunes at Camber Sands in East Sussex so if you are a hiker and staying at a local bed and breakfast in Rye you should make sure you are aware of your surroundings before you find yourself one of those having a bit of a sinking feeling! If you step into quicksand by accident, and you are wearing anything on your back like a rucksack drop it immediately. Your body is much less dense than quicksand and you cannot fully sink unless you panic and struggle too much or you are weighed down. If you can, try and get out of your shoes because flat shoes make a suction as you try and pull them out of the quicksand.
If you do get a bit stuck, move horizontally. Take a quick couple of steps backward before the quicksand takes hold of you as it usually takes a minute or two to liquefy which means the best method to unstick yourself is not getting stuck in the first place! Try not to take massive steps because lifting your leg to stride can push the other further in. Don’t panic. As best you can, don’t panic when you get stuck. Frantic movements will only suck you down further and rapid movements make the ground turn from otherwise firm to quicksand. Quicksand can act unpredictably to your movements.
Relaxing and laying back if you get stuck in quicksand is actually the best way of getting out. Floating on your back while you extract your legs will enable you to ‘swim’ yourself to the edge of the quicksand pool. When you’re walking, make sure that you have a long stick with you so you can check the ground for ripples. If you see unnatural looking ripples in the texture of the ground, use the stick to check for stability before you walk on it. If you are walking with fellow hikers, bring rope with you if there’s a chance you may encounter quicksand as that way if one person falls in the other can stand safely on firm ground and pull the other out. Relax as much as you can and don’t fight the suction but just be gentle with your movements.