I’m sure a lot of you local to South Wales have seen the posts about quicksand on the beach around Rest Bay. The video going around shows a bubbling patch of water and sand, but it isn’t always obvious to spot when an area is dangerous. A couple months ago a few horses got trapped in sinking sand off Ogmore beach and there was no indication that it was not stable until the horses were trapped.
Despite what the movies like to show, if you get stuck in sinking sand it isn’t going to suck you down and down into the Earth’s core. In reality you eventually stop sinking, usually about halfway, and it is the threat of an incoming tide that can make quicksand so dangerous. Unfortunately, these areas cannot even be signed off as dangerous because sinking sand moves with each tide.
It’s great to spread the word of warning about this potential hazard but I’ve not seen any advice being shared about what to do if you or your dog gets caught. So below is a list of advice from HM Coastguard about what to do if you get caught in sinking sand:
• Don’t panic! Whether its you or your dog trapped in quicksand, it is important to remain calm. By staying calm and not struggling you will slow your sinking down and by being calm you can reassure your dog if they become trapped and stop them sinking more and even injuring themselves.
• Do not encourage others to attempt a rescue. If you do not know where the quicksand starts, then you risk getting stuck yourself. Things like bags or long bits of wood can be thrown to provide buoyancy but don’t try to pull someone out who is stuck as you could injure them as well.
• If just your foot is trapped, try sitting down on your bum, lean back and slowly wriggle your foot to attempt to free it. If more of you is trapped, then distribute your weight as widely as possible across the surface and remain still.
• Call for help! Dial 999 and request the Coastguard. They are equipped to deal with these types of rescue safely.
• If you are concerned about coming across sinking sand, take a walking stick to test the sand and make sure you have a way of getting attention (such as a whistle) or mobile phone. Keep close control of your dog so they do not enter unknown areas of sand.