5 Survival Tips We Hope You’ll Never Need

Published October 1, 2015
Updated February 1, 2018

Stuck in a coffin, submerged car or avalanche? We've got your guide outta there. Hopefully you'll never need these survival tips, though.

Survival Tips

We hope this never happens with you in it. But if it does, we want you to know how to get out.

Whether you’re a closet doomsday planner or a disaster film addict, knowing what to do in the worst-case scenario should be at the top of your reading list. Why? Well, you never know when you might find yourself in a serious pickle, and sometimes the only thing between you and death is what you know — only the savvy survive!

Survival Tips: How To Get Out Of A Coffin If You’ve Been Buried Alive

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Once upon a time, graves had bells attached to them so that in the event of a premature burial, the not-dead-yets could ring it to alert the gravekeeper that they were, in fact, alive. That’s where the term saved by the bell originates.

In modern times, if your family is clever enough, you might find yourself buried with a ringer of a different kind — a cellphone. Yes, some people have actually buried loved ones with a cell phone. You know. Just in case. But if you find yourself buried alive and either 1. without a cellphone or 2. without full bars, here are a few tips for escaping:

1. Firstly, don’t panic. If you panic, you’ll start to hyperventilate and suck up what little oxygen you have to work with. In a typical coffin, you’ll have enough air to last an hour or two at most, so be conservative.

2. Hope that your family has been relatively cheap in choosing your afterlife accommodations. If the lid of your coffin is pine, it should be fairly light and easy to either lift up or break through. If it’s hardwood or, God forbid, metal, you’re probably screwed (unless you’d like to use morse code to tap out an S.O.S).

3. Take stock of your possessions — were you buried with any tokens? Are any of them helpful? Are you wearing jewelry of any kind, or even have a ballpoint pen? In these instances, being the kind of person who always leaves random things in your suit jacket pockets for years and years may be your saving grace.

4. Remove your shirt. In a small enclosure it won’t be easy, but your goal is to get it off and tied over your head. No, you’re not going to smother yourself — you’re going to prevent the cascade of inbound dirt from smothering you. Pray that your family didn’t bury you in your ‘80s roller rink mesh top.

5. Kick the coffin lid upward until you make an opening — the closer to your head, the better. If the coffin was cheaply made, you may not have much work ahead of you, as the weight of the dirt above may have cracked it.

6. As the dirt fills in, use your hands to push it away from your face, toward your feet. Again, work quickly but calmly so to conserve your strength and your air.
When you’ve cleared enough space to sit up, do so and continue pushing dirt down until you can stand. At this point, you should be able to climb out. Or, alternatively, have caused enough of a show that someone above ground has heard you and is rushing to your aid.

Abby Norman
Abby Norman is a writer based in New England, currently writing a memoir for Nation Books. Her work has been featured on The Rumpus, The Independent, Cosmopolitan, Medium, Seventeen, Romper, Bustle, and Quartz.
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