Being buried alive certainly makes it near the top of my list of ways I would hate to go. While it is rare nowadays (though it does still happen), it actually used to happen quite often.
In 1937, a 19-year-old from France named Angelo Hays went for a motorcycle ride. He ended up crashing and slamming head first into a brick wall. When help arrived, they found Hays’ head was mangled and there was no sign of a pulse. Hays was declared dead and buried three days later.
Due to an investigation by an insurance company, the body of Angelo Hays was exhumed two days after the funeral. It was quite the surprise to find that his body was still warm. Apparently, in the aftermath of the accident, his body put itself into a deep coma and required very little oxygen to upkeep his system.
After being buried alive, he received proper medical care and went on to make a miraculous full recovery. He then invented a type of security coffin that he toured across France. It was reported to contain “a small oven, a refrigerator, and a hi-fi cassette player.”
In 1915, a 30-year-old South Carolinian named Essie Dunbar suffered a fatal attack of epilepsy—or so everyone thought. After declaring her dead, doctors placed her body in a coffin and scheduled her funeral for the next day so that her sister, who lived out of town, would still be able to pay respects. But Dunbar’s sister didn’t travel fast enough; she arrived only to see the last clods of dirt thrown atop the grave. This didn’t sit well with Dunbar’s sister, who wanted to see Essie one last time. She ordered that the body be removed. When the coffin lid was opened, Essie sat up and smiled at all those around her. She lived for another 47 years.
Now, while I would hope that being buried alive would never be something that I or any of our readers would ever have to deal with, I believe this is one of those “good to know” posts.
I came across this information online searching for something completely unrelated but oh well, it was a good read. I am sure this would not work 100% of the time either, it would depend on the coffin (would have to be a fairly cheap one), your strength, and a whole barrel of luck.
Do not panic. Panicking will only use up your valuable oxygen. Stay calm and think clearly! According to Popular Science, a healthy adult might have around five and a half hours worth of breathable air available. Just how long you’ll last depends largely on the size of the coffin, your own size and just how many of those panic attacks you had before you finally calmed down. With each breath, make it deep and hold it for as long as possible before exhaling.
Check for anything useful. You won’t have much room to move around but you should have enough room to check your pockets for anything of use. You probably haven’t been buried with anything particularly useful. But you never know! Have a feel around and see what you can find.
If you’ve been buried wearing a belt, the buckle could be useful. Check your pockets and shoes and everywhere else — anything from cuff links to steel-toed shoes could end up being immeasurably helpful. If, for some astronomically unlikely reason, you’ve been buried with your phone, thank your lucky stars and get calling. If you’ve got no signal, remember that in many cases, emergency numbers like 911 or 112 will be picked up by any nearby cell tower, sometimes even if your phone doesn’t have a service plan. Don’t rule anything out.
Using any hard object from the last step, or your fists if nothing else, start tapping the Morse code for SOS on the lid of the coffin. It’s three quick taps, three long taps, three quick taps. The chances that you’re going to be heard are almost unspeakably low, but there’s always the chance you haven’t been buried yet, or that you’ve been buried in a shallow grave. If so, someone hearing you is going to be your ticket out of there.
Break out. If knocking SOS hasn’t helped and you’re pretty sure no one’s coming to save you, it might be time for some drastic action. To dig yourself out, you’re going to first have to break through the coffin’s lid. If it’s made of steel, you’re as good as dead. If it’s made of cardboard, you’re golden. Grab a tool if you can and start attacking the lid of the coffin.
Soon enough, dirt is going to start pouring in. You might be able to save yourself from immediate suffocation if you protect your face with an item of clothing. If this works, start scraping your way out. This all might sound drastic — and it is — but people have survived this way before: the Huffington Post reported in 2013 that a man in Brazil dug himself out of his own (admittedly shallow) grave after being injured in a fight.
To be honest, your chances of surviving being buried alive are incredibly slim. Once you’re in there, you’re in there. Speculation is one thing, but reality is another.
Now, you could always include it in your will that you wish to be buried with some select items such as your knife, phone, multi-tool, etc.