Volunteer left trapped after sinking up to knees in quicksand

Carl Williams credit Syndication

A volunteer in North Wales who was surveying a river had to be rescued after he began sinking in quicksand.

Carl Williams, a conservationist, quickly got stuck up to his knees, leaving him trapped.

Luckily he was with fellow River Guardians, who were checking vegetation alongside Wych Brook, near Worthenbury, Wrexham.Writing on Facebook, the NWWT team described their struggles to extricate Carl from his muddy mantrap.“We had moved onto a field just off the brook to pull out some stray bits,” they said.“The ground looked dry as a bone, apart from a tiny bit of surface water where the corn wasn’t growing.“One minute he was in front of us, the next he was knee-deep in mud!“It was a right struggle to get him out.”

The NWWT team urged others to be careful and to keep their eyes peeled for quicksand.

The River Guardians had been looking for Himalayan balsam, a south Asian plant that can suffocate native species and erode riverbanks.They were part of NWWT’s River Wellbeing Project, set up to boost the health and wellbeing of its volunteers.The NWWT team urged others to be careful and to keep their eyes peeled for quicksand.“We got caught out by what looked barely like a puddle on a dry cornfield in baking hot temperatures,” they said.Quicksand is usually more of a danger on beaches and over the years there have been numerous incidents around the North Wales coast.

What to do if you become stuck in quicksand:

  • Don’t panic

  • It’s not like the movies, you’re not going to be sucked under – you won’t sink far past your waist.

  • Qiuicksand is actually quite dense – twice as much as a human body – so you actually float in it.

  • So, stay calm and take deep breaths. With more air in your lungs, you’ll float better.

  • The biggest risk is not quicksand itself, as you can quite happily stay stuck all day.

  • The bigger threat is the incoming tide if you become trapped on a beach.

  • Get rid of excess weight.

  • If you have a rucksack, take it off, and any extra weight will make you sink faster.

  • It’s probably best to lose your shoes or boots too, as these can act like suction pads.

  • Know your science.

Quicksand liquifies if you struggle, making it less viscous. As you sink, you squeeze water from the sand increasing its viscosity.In other words, as the water disappears, the sand thickens, creating a vacuum that pulls you down.Scientists estimate the force needed for someone to pull their foot out is equivalent to lifting a car.So, initially, thrashing around is the worst thing you can do. Instead, redistribute your weight.If you’re waist-deep, lean backwards as far as you can. If you’re knee-deep, sit down slowly.The more you can spread your weight, the less likely you are to sink further.