You wake up one day and feel a bit groggy. The last thing you remember is flying out to eastern Europe and having a great time sightseeing, and then there’s some vague memories of a drug deal gone south with a bunch of Russian gangsters and their leader smiling sinisterly while saying, “Perhaps it is time our friend has a dirt nap.” He laughed, his gangsters laughed, and what you originally thought was a poor use of an American idiom turned out to be quite literal.
Now you’re six feet underground and stuck inside a coffin- how are you going to get out of this one? Being buried alive is a pretty common fear, and in 2018 a shocking 15% of people buried at a cemetery were in fact, buried alive by mistake. Just kidding, we made that up just to panic our more claustrophobic fans, who should actually feel a lot better knowing that being buried alive is so rare that there’s no official stat for how often it happens. Of course, it has happened, and back in the 1800s, the fear was so prevalent that special coffins were made available which came with a length of string tied to a bell above the grave.
If someone happened to find they’d been pronounced dead prematurely, all they would have to do is ring the bell. Again though, we weren’t able to find any verified claims of this ever actually happening. But what if it did happen to you? First, we’re going to be straight up with you and let you know that freeing yourself is going to take a lot of luck and be incredibly difficult. So difficult in fact that right this very second millions of people could very well be trying to desperately claw their way to freedom from an early grave only to die of asphyxiation… so who knows, maybe 15% of people really are buried alive! I mean, we researched it and there’s no official way of checking if a buried corpse is, you know, an actual corpse.
If your family opted for embalming though then you have nothing to worry about because if you weren’t dead before the mortician got his hands on you, you definitely are after he suctions out all your blood and replaces it with a witches brew of chemicals. Embalming however is not legally mandated, and instead, your family could ask that you be refrigerated until the funeral service, this is a cheaper alternative to embalming and will help keep you crisp and semi-fresh so your family has a chance to say goodbye without you looking like a Walking Dead extra. If you’ve seen our previous episode on the man who survived being frozen for twelve hours, then you’re already aware that chilling a body can actually help keep it alive.
The chilling can slow your cellular activity to the point that you require very little oxygen, and your heart can beat very, very sparingly and still keep you alive. Odds are though that if you’re buried alive then you’ve probably been involved in some shady business with the Russian mob, who coincidentally find it a great laugh to bury their enemies alive inside coffins and listen to them try to claw their way out. In this case, believe it or not you have a very thin chance of survival. So what do you do? Step 1: Calm down. You have ever been told to calm down in the middle of a fight, remember how it only made you a lot angrier? Well, this time you’re going to have to actually calm down.
Waking up inside a coffin is going to be a pretty traumatic and terrifying experience, and in all honesty we wouldn’t blame you for freaking out. But whatever you do, don’t. That’s because when you’re being hysterical with a boyfriend or girlfriend and get told to calm down, you can afford to completely ignore the advice thanks to all the free oxygen you’re gulping down in your outrage. Inside a buried coffin though you’re working on a very strict oxygen budget, and if you woke up inside the coffin then that means you’ve been lazily sleeping for who knows how long and gulping down oxygen by the mouthfuls the entire time. Freaking out is only going to increase your oxygen intake and do you very little good.
It’s time to clear your mind and try meditating, focus on slowing your breathing and stay in control of your emotions. Step 2: Take inventory This might sound like a no-brainer, but once you’ve calmed down, check the inside of your coffin. Maybe you have a pocket knife- that would be great- or a belt buckle or literally anything else that’s very hard and rigid. You can use a belt buckle to tap rhythmically on the lid of your coffin and hope that someone above can hear you. If you were accidentally buried alive then there’s a good chance there’s still someone up above paying their last respects or putting the finishing touches on your grave. If you have a pocket knife it’s going to come in handy for trying to break your way out of the coffin.
Increasingly though people are being buried with cell phones, either by accident or on purpose so that loved ones can call the corpse- yeah, we also don’t get that one, but hey to each their own. If you happen to have a cell phone on you then try dialing out, there’s a small chance you’ll have reception. If your carrier is T-Mobile then forget it, you’re screwed. Step 3: Prepare to bust out Ok, you have no cell phone or you foolishly opted for a contract with T-mobile, which means you have no reception inside your coffin or anywhere else really. It’s time to get out.
First, let’s just say that if you’ve been buried in a steel-lined coffin, then forget it it’s over for you. Remember that pocket knife? You have two choices here: the fast way out, or slow, lingering asphyxiation. But let’s say you got buried in a much cheaper wooden coffin or a budget model made out of very rigid cardboard. This is one time you’re going to be grateful to your family for being a bunch of cheapskates. What you’re going to want to do is to make a hole in the coffin through which you’ll crawl out, but first you have to protect your ability to breathe. Take your shirt and lift it up over your head so that it covers your head, like when two hockey players get into a fight.
This will make a hood that your head fits inside of, and will keep dirt out and help you have some oxygen as you crawl upwards. Step 4: Bust out and take revenge on the living Alright, you’ve got your shirt over your head to help you maintain some breathing air as you claw your way to freedom through several feet of dirt- or at least so you look hilariously ridiculous when they eventually dig you up a few years later. Now you want to feel for the center of the lid of your coffin, this will be the weakest point structurally because of science. It’ll be difficult in the cramped spaces, but you want to start hammering away at this point, and while you won’t be able to actually bust out, you can flex the lid enough that hopefully the weight of the dirt above it will crack it.
Once you’ve accomplished this, tear away at the wood or heavy cardboard and push all the incoming dirt to the bottom of your coffin, while trying to wriggle your body so that your head doesn’t get stuck in place. You’re gonna have to make like a worm and wriggle continuously to push the dirt aside and hopefully down, while widening the opening in the lid. In time you should be able to have made a large enough hole that you can start making your way upwards, and this is actually the easy part. Since you were recently buried then all that dirt is going to be very loose and pretty easy to dig through.
Of course it’s all going to be compacting your little bubble of air supply so you’re gonna have to move fast. Once you’ve busted out take a well deserved breath of fresh air. Now you’re free to freak out all you want. Breaking free completely will take some time, but with enough wriggling you should eventually manage to get your arms loose and then you can simply pull yourself up to freedom. You’ve done it, you’ve come back from the grave like a completely predictable twist on AMC’s The Walking Dead. Now it’s time to get a second lease on life, or at the very least to change your phone carriers. How would you survive being buried alive? Does the thought scare you? Let us know in the comments!