If this guy can’t lunge free, then there’s no hope for the rest of us.

I remember being a kid and watching numerous nature documentaries, cartoons, and adventure films, and worrying about the seemingly ever-present threat of quicksand. What should you do if you end up stuck in quicksand? How do you get free?!

As it turns out, quicksand patches are not incredibly common in any of the places that I’ve lived. Much more common, however, are reservoir ponds. If you fall into one, how do you get yourself out?

Many people imagine that they would simply gather momentum and throw themselves up against the embankment if they were to fall in. What this doesn’t allow for is the downward slope of most manmade ponds, and how impossible it is even for a fit and healthy adult to gain enough purchase to climb out again.

A series of YouTube videos that illustrate the deadly reality of reservoir ponds has been gaining its own momentum throughout the Japanese Internet, where an active coast guard does his very best to free himself from a watery doom.

▼ The video’s Japanese title translates to “No Matter How Hard You Try, You Won’t Be Able to Pull Yourself out of a Reservoir Pond.”

In the video, we are shown our hero, the previously mentioned active coast guard. He strides confidently to the edge of the pond… and falls back in. Then he gathers up some water and splashes it against the side, presumably to aid himself in slipping up its sides. His second attempt to clamber up falls short, too.

▼ He loses his grip and stumbles as two other coast guards narrate. “He’s slipping.”

After several valiant attempts to swim up the sides of the pond, he gives up and treads water instead.

According to the description of the video, the man initially tried to breaststroke and then accelerated into a crawl stroke. He aimed to land on the embankment like a fur seal, but he couldn’t quite manage it.

Then he swung his arms backward with intense force and tried to propel himself to land with pure momentum. He managed to emerge from the water, but before he could step onto the embankment his feet slipped underneath him and prevented him from moving any further. He lost the all-important friction necessary to pull himself up and onto the land.

The second video in the series demonstrates how to reach a resting position so that you can wait to be rescued by professionals.

▼ This one is called How to Wait for Rescue from a Pond.”

Here, the team demonstrates how someone stuck in a pond can use the breaststroke or backstroke to get closer to land. Once arriving at the edge, they should rest against the edge of the embankment with either their chest or shoulders so that they can maintain their position safely and breathe. Notably, someone resting in this position doesn’t look like they’re stuck — a passerby might assume that they can pull the stuck person out from the pond.

This, the video description clearly states, is impossible. Instead, anyone who attempts to do so is much more likely to topple into the pond themself, meaning no one can call rescue services for proper assistance.

The third and final video in the series has an important parting message:

▼ This video’s title is You Absolutely Must Not Remove Your Shoes in a Pond.”

Some people may assume that taking off their shoes will help them to gain friction on the slippery pond embankment. The description of this video assures readers that not only does it make little to no difference, but that leaving your feet unprotected is seriously risky.

In the video, one of the assistants comments that you can always tell when someone has died in the ocean or on a wharf, as their hands and feet are so cut to ribbons that the bones are often visible. Ghoulish and evocative an image as it is, this is why it’s important to remain in one place and not flail your arms and legs around once stuck.

The YouTube videos are filled with appreciative comments for the example shown by the coast guard, as well as people’s own experiences:

“When I went out fishing as a kid I’d fall in over and over. It’s so slippery that it’s impossible to pull yourself out.”
“Make sure to bring a ladder with you!”
“If you fall in, don’t bother trying to get out! Just wait for help. That’s the most important thing to remember.”
“He looks like an ant that fell into an antlion pit! Ponds are really dangerous!”

There’s much to admire about ponds, but considering how dangerous they can be if you accidentally fall in, it might be best to enjoy their charms from far away. Very, very far away.

Source: YouTube/saitoh hidetoshi (1, 2, 3) via Hachima Kiko
Images: YouTube/saitoh hidetoshi
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