For some minutes after this fancy possessed me, I remained without motion. And why? I could not summon the courage to move. I dared not make the effort which was to satisfy me of my fate — and yet there was something at my heart which whispered me it was sure. Despair — such as no other species of wretchedness ever calls into being — despair alone urged me, after long irresolution, to uplift the heavy lids of my eyes. I uplifted them. It was dark — all dark. I knew that the fit was over. I knew that the crisis of my disorder had long passed. I knew that I had now fully recovered the use of my visual faculties — and yet it was dark — all dark — the intense and utter raylessness of the Night that endureth for evermore. The Premature Burial, Edgar Allan Poe
Welcome, weary traveler! The journey’s been a long one and you rest. Sleep! Sleep! And awaken to find yourself trapped in a pine box. Deep silence apart from the thumping sound made by your heart – like a Mad Hatter racing past everyone to get front-row tickets to see the Rapture. Charming perspective, isn’t it?
Well, for us, it’s just a tall tale, a decrepit fable meant only to scare children or to make chicks jump into your arms when campfire ghost stories become too ghosty. However, for people living in the Victorian Age, it was a very distinct and frightening glimpse into the afterlife. Rumors of medical conditions that so perfectly mimicked the symptoms of death fueled the common folk’s fear, leading to all kinds of peculiar funeral practices.
Have you seen the Autopsy of Jane Doe? Great horror movie, by the way. You should definitely watch it if you like old-school horror flicks with lots of jumpscares. Anyway, there was this scene in the movie where a mortician explains to his apprentice the significance of attaching a small bell to the cadaver’s toe.
Won’t spoil the movie for you by quoting the doc, but I’m going to say this – that’s a very old and very common 19th-century medical practice to ensure that the deceased wasn’t interred while being alive. As I’ve mentioned, some conditions such as catalepsy mimic the symptoms of death.
With Medicine lacking the needs to detect faint life signs, some patients were declared dead even though they were very much alive. The bell attached to the toe was to make everyone aware that the soon-to-be-buried person still had life in him. Historical records that toe bell was not the only peculiarity when it came to the mortal dread of being buried alive.
Affluent families commissioned intricate coffin which featured let’s say, emergency release switches. These levers or buttons were installed inside the coffin, probably in proximity to the deceased’s limbs.
As death spares neither the rich nor the poor, even the working class sought to outfit their loved ones’ final resting places with similar signaling devices. The most common was the bell mounted on the tombstone, which could be triggered by the deceased via a thin metal wire running through the ground.
Anyway, welcome again to the first part of my extreme survival series; a project which I have postponed for far too long. As you’ve probably guessed by now, the first article will be about how to escape being buried alive.
I know that with nowadays medical gadgets it’s next to impossible to second-guess the symptomatology associated with death, but it can happen (check out the story about the Spanish man who woke up during the autopsy). Now, without further ado, here’s what needs to be done in order to escape a coffin if you’ve been buried by mistake (or intentionally!).
Step 1. Assess the situation
Fear is only natural and waking up in utter darkness, surrounded by four wooden boards can make even a man with nerve made of steel to go nuts. Don’t do that! I know it’s hard to think about anything else in those moments, but screaming, kicking, crying, and obsessively scratching the inside of the lid will only force your lungs to consume more oxygen, not to mention the fact that you will more than likely end up hurting yourself.
Take a minute or two to compose yourself and assess the situation. Knock on the lid and listen – if you hear a hollow sound, it means that the coffin has yet to be placed underground; in which case, all you’ll need to do would be to kick open the lid. Doesn’t matter if haven’t had the chance of break open a door – with that much adrenaline coursing through your veins, you can probably kill a bull.
Now, in the event that you don’t hear a hollow sound, you should assume that the casket has been buried. There’s no reason to panic. Calmly, reach into your pockets and try to figure out what you have in them. I know that this sounds really sad, but people nowadays tend to bury their loved ones with some of their possessions – this could mean, well, anything: a small switchblade, a lighter, a smartphone, a tablet, heck, even a laptop.
Don’t even bother trying to call someone if you find a phone in your pockets – the signal won’t get through that far underground. However, you can use flash to check out the inside of the casket. Don’t forget about your breathing – even if all the odds are against you, panicking will only make you act irrationally.
Most caskets are made from flimsy materials, meaning that breaking open the lid would not be much of an issue. It’s the earth on top that must concern you at this point.
Step 2. Provide some sort of head protection
It’s obvious that you won’t have access to the tools you keep inside your B.O.B, but that doesn’t mean you can’t improvise. Bear in mind that breaking the coffin’s lid is the easy part. Having to deal with the earth will be quite challenging, but not impossible.
To spare yourself a chocking death once the earth starts pouring into the coffin, pull your T-shirt, shirt or park over your head (hands should not be in the sleeves). After doing that, use the sleeves to make a knot just above the head. Yes, I know it sounds awful and rather ineffective, but this simple trick will protect your head while preventing you from chugging dirt.
Step 3. Look for weak spots in the coffin.
If the unfortunate event happened very quickly and away from your family, you’re very likely to have been buried in a rectangular box. Those require little force to break since the lid’s held in place by a couple of nails. Still, if some funeral arrangements were observed, you could end up in one of those double-doored caskets. It doesn’t really matter, because all of them have weak spots – in the latter case it’s the gap where the two doors meet. That’s where you will need to strike.
However, before making any attempts, take a few moments to compose yourself; you’re alive, you’re still breathing, and you will get out of this no matter what. Free your mind of any menacing thoughts and focus only on the task at hand.
Step 4. Break the lid and start shovelling
When you’re ready, ensure that the shirt’s sleeves are secured, and, using all the force you can muster, kick the coffin’s lid. Hit it until earth begins to fall inside the coffin. Don’t panic when that happens. Push the falling earth on the sides.
Always keep your head and torso above the earth. Keep pushing and piling the dirt to the sides. You can guess how far you will need to pile by using your nose – if the air’s still stale and, well, earthy; it means you’ve still got a few feet to go. Again, keep breathing at a steady pace and don’t attempt to remove the ‘bag’ over your head no matter how uncomfortable you feel. As the earth piles inside the coffin, you’ll notice or rather feel less of the stuff falling on you.
Step 5. Get up on your feet, soldier!
Once the inside of the coffin starts feeling up, arch one of your feet, and plant the foot firmly on the coffin’s bottom. You’re nearly out! One more push and you’re free! Using that foot as support, muster all the strength you have left and stand up.
You’re one step away from freedom. It may be very hard at first, but once you’ve managed to raise your head and torso above lid level, standing up will be very easy. At this point, all you’ll need to do would be to push away the remaining earth and to crawl out of your grave. Congratulations! You’ve just survived one of the worst fates anyone can imagine.
I should emphasize the fact that even with our astounding progress in life signs detection, errors can sometimes occur. Nobody’s to blame for this. It’s just the fact that your body has decided to slow all body functions to the point where detection becomes impossible. Still, one cannot ignore the fact that someone could have done that to you on purpose. Yes, I know that it’s a rather disconcerting thought, but, then again, the world is a crazy place.
Once you’ve got out of the grave, head immediately to the nearest hospital for a full checkup. You should also find a way to notify the authorities. The chances of you being the target of an assault may be slim, but at this point anything is possible. One more thing before I go – emotional support. This kind of things stirs some serious shit inside your noggins.
Don’t even dare to assume that it’s over. Ever heard about PTSD? Yes, that awful conditions which afflict so many battle-hardened soldiers. Post-traumatic stress disorder doesn’t occur solely during an intense battle. Nope! According to the docs, you have more chances of experiencing PTSD-like symptoms after a car accident or going through a breakup, than on the battlefield.
So, after the good doc gives you a clean bill of health, do yourself a favor and go talk to the therapist about this experience.
What are your thoughts of being buried alive? Hit the comments section and let me know.
Other self-sufficiency and preparedness solutions recommended for you:
The Lost Ways (The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us)
Survival MD (Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation)
Backyard Liberty (Liberal’s hidden agenda: more than just your guns…)
Alive After the Fall (Build yourself the only unlimited water source you’ll ever need)
The Lost ways II (4 Important Forgotten Skills used by our Ancestors that can help you in any crisis)
The Patriot Privacy Kit (Secure your privacy in just 10 simple steps)