The Safety Coffin
The fear of being buried alive was common before the advent of modern medicine. In 1817, it was estimated one out of every 1,000 people was buried alive. So common was the fear that horror writers found it a favorite topic.
William Tebb, founder of the London Association for the Prevention of Premature Burial, published his research in 1905. According to Tebb, he had evidence of two cases of people awakening while being embalmed, 10 cases of people being dissected while alive, 149 people being buried alive, and 219 people nearly being buried live.
This fear lead to the development of the safety coffin. This took many forms:
- Coffins with a glass lid. If the person was still alive, their breath would fog the glass.
- A rope was attached to the deceased’s wrist that rang a bell on the surface to alert others he had been buried alive.
- Feeding tubes to ensure someone buried alive did not starve before rescue.
- Viewing tubes that allowed people on the surface to monitor the deceased to be sure they were really dead.
- Air tubes to prevent the buried person from suffocating.
- Escape hatches and ladders to the surface.
Despite all these innovations, there are no known cases of a safety coffin savi
ng someone. There are, however, stories of people who awoke from a coma or other illnesses in their coffins before burial.
Where to Purchase The Unmarriable Kind
This post is a companion piece to Melina Druga’s historical fiction novella, The Unmarriable Kind.
Lucretia, an opinionated school teacher, wants no part of marriage. The new headmaster champions change. Will they ever see eye to eye? Available in eBook, paperback and hardcover. Full list of retailers.