in: Outdoor/Survival, Skills, Visual Guides

• Last updated: October 25, 2023

Skill of the Week: Survive Being Buried Alive

An important part of manhood has always been about having the competence to be effective in the world — having the breadth of skills, the savoir-faire, to handle any situation you find yourself in. With that in mind, each Sunday we’ll be republishing one of the illustrated guides from our archives, so you can hone your manly know-how week by week.

Medical practices have come a long way in the last hundred years. Case in point, the safety coffin. Also known as a security coffin, the safety coffin was a popular item in the 18th and 19th centuries. Its goal? To provide a way for folks who were prematurely buried to signal that they were still alive, just in case doctors made a mistake.

Safety coffins typically featured a bell or a flag system connected to the inside of the coffin, below ground. If your buddies conducted your funeral a bit too early, you could let them know you were in fact still kicking and in need of being unearthed.

Being buried alive is a terrifying and common fear (particularly if you have claustrophobia!), even if it is exceedingly rare in our modern world. Unfortunately, safety coffins aren’t around anymore, so if you’re buried alive you’ll have to get out the manual way; here’s hoping the coffin isn’t enclosed in a concrete/metal/plastic burial vault/liner, you’ve been placed in a flimsy wood box, have been buried in a shallow grave covered with dry, loose dirt — and possess zombie-like strength.

Illustrated by Ted Slampyak

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