At a construction site, a hole caved in and buried a workman up to his shoulders in wet sand. The foreman told the trapped man that a crane would be there in 20 minutes to pull him out, but another worker said they couldn’t wait, and had to dig NOW. He was right. Why is this a life-threatening emergency?

In this condition, the person will definitely try to dig himself back to save his life. Since the sand is wet, so wherever he digs up will be further filled up with sand. This results in a rise in density in that area. This rise in density plus the weight of the person and the sand will further push him/her into the sand; and after some time, say 20 minutes, this person will be completely buried in the sand. The physiological outcomes will be:


Blood will start flowing upward, i.e towards the face and head; because this is the only low-pressure area of the body. And all liquids move from a region of low pressure to high pressure. So, ultimately this person may die from a brain hemorrhage.

Excessive pressure on the heart may lead to a Cardiac arrest in no time.

Since it is wet sand, the body parts will start swelling, and upon prolonged incubation in wet sand, the body parts, including the organs will swell up completely, leading to death.

Churning motions of stomach and peristalsis will stop completely; leading to asphyxia.

A common condition known as claustrophobia may also occur.