Free Video Downloader

Fast and free all in one video downloader

For Example:


Copy shareable video URL


Paste it into the field


Click to download button

When Sand Kills
March 2, 2024

When Sand Kills

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Many People Are Afraid of Sharks. But a Recent Beach Death Involved a Whole Other Culprit., Holes at the beach can be deadly, in rare but harrowing instances. Experts explain why—and how to stay safe., Sand hole deaths: Why they happen, how often—and how t

Digging holes in the sand is a staple beach activity for kids. But a fatal accident last week is a reminder that sand holes—even relatively small ones—pose a very real threat to children who climb inside them. While on vacation in Florida, a 7-year-old girl and her older brother were buried when the approximately 5-foot hole they were digging suddenly collapsed in on them. Even though bystanders immediately worked to extricate them, the girl later died at the hospital.

Sand hole collapses claim at least a few lives each year. Back in May, a 17-year-old boy died in North Carolina when a dune fell into the hole he was digging; in March, a 14-year-old boy died in rural Minnesota; in 2022, at least two teenagers were killed, one in Utah and the other in New Jersey. The most recent study to crunch the numbers, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that there were 52 incidents of dangerous collapsing sand holes in the U.S. between 1990 and 2007. Over half of the incidents were fatal, and many of the survivors required resuscitation.

Capt. Butch Arbin, who oversees the Ocean City Beach Patrol in Maryland, has been involved in several such rescues during his five decades on the job. ‘Parents actually may be digging their own kid a grave and don’t even realize it,’ he says.

The more frequent concern at the beach, says Arbin, is shark attacks. But while deaths from either are somewhat rare, sand holes are about as deadly as sharks: During that same nearly two-decade span that the NEJM study looked at, there were 24 instances of deadly shark attacks in the U.S.—one involved a boat that sank, and several people were killed—compared to the 31 who died from sand hole collapses. We should perhaps be a little more afraid of sand holes than we are.

Being buried in almost any substance would be dangerous. But sand has a few things going for it that makes it a particularly deadly material.

For starters, sand on the beach can appear quite sturdy. When sand is wet, the water helps hold grains of sand together, explains Karen Daniels, a physicist at North Carolina State University who studies how sand moves. That cohesion allows sand to be shaped into a castle, or a tall pile, or to be dug down into.

But the sturdiness of a wall of sand, whether above or below ground level, is an illusion, Daniels says. A pile of sand—dry or wet—is always very close to falling apart. All it takes is the smallest disturbance to dislodge a grain, and all the grains behind it could follow. A footfall near a sand hole can be enough to shatter its integrity and cause the sand to start to move.

While individual grains are solid, a big group of them can move a lot like liquid, says Daniels. Falling grains bounce off each other like atoms in a cascade of water, losing energy as they tumble. Once all that energy is gone, the sand settles back into a state that physicists call ‘a marginal solid.’

Sand’s aptitude for flow makes it prone to cave-ins, and its ability to go rigid makes it dangerous for anyone caught beneath it.

The water that glued together the walls of a sand hole won’t ultimately prevent sand from falling, but it will return to serving as a glue once the sand hole has collapsed, holding the grains together and making it harder for a person or their rescuers to dig a way out. It also adds to the weight of the sand: Wet sand can weigh as much as 130 pounds per cubic foot—that’s equivalent to 20 bricks piled on your chest. (Dry sand already weighs a lot: 90 to 110 pounds per cubic foot.)

‘The lethality of sand is its ability to compact around you,’ says Christopher Moir, a pediatric trauma surgeon at Mayo Clinic who published a report in 2004 on two boys who died after accidental sand burial (one in a sandbox and one at a construction site). The children had no sand in their airway: they were unable to breathe at all.

‘Sand is horrible because it will flow around to every single part of your body so that you’re encased,’ says Moir. ‘You are entombed, essentially.’ Because grains of beach sand are so fine, they can squeeze in very close to each other. And that compaction makes it so that a buried person’s chest and diaphragm are unable to expand, so they literally cannot take a breath.

Even if you could, you wouldn’t want to: ‘If you can breathe, you’re breathing in the sand,’ Moir says.

That’s the other way sand can kill. Sand is fine enough that it can travel deep into the lungs, blocking off access to the alveoli, which is where the lungs hand off their oxygen to the blood. The more sand packs in, the more it prevents air from getting to those alveoli, effectively suffocating the person. Even if a person can be resuscitated, they’ll need specialized medical treatment to remove the sand from their lungs.

Twenty years later, Moir still vividly remembers one of the buried boys, who was dead upon arrival at the hospital: ‘I still see that child, and I still see his face.’

In his report on the incident, Moir and his co-authors wrote: ‘Greater awareness by public health and safety officials at beaches, sandboxes, sandpiles, and natural play areas may prevent potentially lethal accidents.’

For rescuers, getting someone out of a hole is not as simple as digging. It’s important to pull the sand away from the point of collapse rather than attempt to dig straight down, says Arbin; that can just lead to further collapse. In Ocean City, the lifeguards are trained to form two concentric circles around the collapsed hole, with everyone in the smaller circle moving sand back toward the circle behind them, where those lifeguards do the same.
The idea is to slowly widen the area.

For parents, the message isn’t to never let kids dig. ‘But know that there are limits,’ says Moir. The most dangerous holes are the deep ones, because their sand is wetter (and thus heavier), with less stability and a larger volume to fall on the person below. But any hole can possibly be dangerous: The NEJM study found that some of the deaths happened in as little as 2 feet of sand. A good rule of thumb is to make sure holes are no deeper than the knee of the shortest person digging it.

What many people don’t understand, says Arbin, is that watching digging kids closely is not good enough, because sand collapse can happen in an instant and without warning. ‘Adults argue with us, ‘I’m here watching,’ ‘ he says. ‘I’m not going to let you watch your kid dig a 6-foot hole and then get buried, because we’re not going to be able to get him out.’ Monitor kids as they dig holes that are more shallow than the knee of the shortest person—but for deeper holes, says Arbin: ‘Cover it up.’


Ref: slate -> Free Online Video Downloader, Download Any Video From YouTube, VK, Vimeo, Twitter, Twitch, Tumblr, Tiktok, Telegram, TED, Streamable, Soundcloud, Snapchat, Share, Rumble, Reddit, PuhuTV, Pinterest, Periscope,, MxTakatak, Mixcloud, Mashable, LinkedIn, Likee, Kwai, Izlesene, Instagram, Imgur, IMDB, Ifunny, Gaana, Flickr, Febspot, Facebook, ESPN, Douyin, Dailymotion, Buzzfeed, BluTV, Blogger, Bitchute, Bilibili, Bandcamp, Akıllı, 9GAG

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *