Sinkhole Survival Tips

Naturally occurring sinkholes are depressions in the earth that are caused by water erosion of the bedrock below the surface. They can be both natural or man-made depressions in the ground.

Eventually, the rock cannot support the surface any longer and it suddenly collapses inwards.

Not all sinkholes (dolines) are the same, there are actually several different types but each can be equally dangerous and devastating as the next.

They are not just the makings of movies but sinkholes are very real for some people who have seen their cars and even their homes just disappear in the blink of an eye. The deepest sinkhole to have formed so far is in the Chongqing district of China. It measures a whopping 2,171 feet deep and 2053 metres wide.

We are going to take a look at some survival tips which might help you survive should the ground collapse from underneath you.

1. Gain Knowledge

Knowledge is power!

You must take the time to learn everything that you can about sinkholes such as what causes them and which areas are more at risk. By actually studying sinkholes, you will learn how to identify, avoid and survive a sinkhole.

2. Disaster Kit

You may well be thinking “Well how the heck will my survival bag help me survive?” and we’ll it’s in the name. This bag should be within arms reach. Have a favorite place you always sit while watching TV? Keep it within arms reach. Going to bed? Keep it within arms reach. Going for a drive? Keep one in the car, within arms reach. Get it yet?

If you think that the ground is just suddenly going to open up without any time to grab at something you’re mistaken. You will have time providing it is close. Should you fall in a sinkhole, there are a lot of items in the bag you can use to increase your chances of survival.

3. Hire a Geologist

A geologist can help you determine how ‘at risk‘ your property is, if at all. If you live in an area known for sinkholes then this is a very important step.

A geologist will do all the needed tests in and around your area. They have the proper training, information, and equipment to determine whether or not a sinkhole may occur on your property.

4. Have Sinkhole Repairs Checked

Sinkholes can be repaired but this doesn’t mean that it won’t reopen. If there is a sinkhole anywhere near your property which has been repaired, make sure that a licensed engineer certified the repair. It shouldn’t be too hard to gather all the documents and data on the repair.

5. Be Observant

There are always signs that something is not right under the surface and you need to always be on the lookout for these signs. Things to watch out for include:

  • Structural cracks in floors and walls
  • Muddy/cloudy well water
  • Suddenly doors and windows not closing properly in your property
  • Outside fence posts and foundations that were once buried are becoming more visible as the ground sinks
  • Vegetation that wilts and dies as the sinkhole draws away essential water
  • Falling or slumping fence posts or trees

6. Evacuation

Should a sinkhole form in your area, try to move farthest away from the hole as possible. They generally don’t just open up but they usually keep growing for a while.

7. If the Unthinkable Happens

  • Cover your head – use your arms to cover and protect your head as best you can. This should also give you some breathing room.
  • Parachute landing fall (PLF) – Squeeze your arms and legs together, tuck your knees, and fall to your side on impact so that the force of the impact is evenly distributed along your joints and spine. Roll backward. Try not to land straight up and stiffened.

There really isn’t too much more you can do but if you have your kit, you should have a whistle and fully charged phone as part of your kit. Now would be the time to use them.

If you have any more suggestions or comments about surviving a sinkhole then add us up on Twitter and let us know so we can get them added to the list.


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