Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Accidental Burial

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buried_alive:

At least one report of accidental burial dates from the thirteenth century. Revivals have been triggered by dropped coffins, grave robbers, embalming, and attempted dissections. Fearing premature burial, George Washington, on his deathbed, made his servants promise not to bury him until twelve days after his death. Patients in the 1890s have been documented as accidentally being bagged, trapped in a steel box, or sent to the morgue. "Safety coffins" have been devised to prevent premature burial.
On 5 December 1882, J. G. Krichbaum received US Patent 268693 for his "Device For Life In Buried Persons". It consisted of a movable periscope-like pipe which provided air and, when rotated or pushed by the person interred, indicated to passersby that someone was buried alive. The patent text refers to "that class of devices for indicating life in buried persons", suggesting that such inventions were common at the time.

A burial vault built c. 1890 with internal escape hatches to allow the victim of accidental premature burial to escape
 Count Karnice-Karnicki of Belgium patented a rescue device in 1897, which mechanically detected chest movement to trigger a flag, lamp, bell, and fresh air. Along similar lines, in the United Kingdom, various systems were developed to save those buried alive, including breakable glass panels in the coffin lid and pulley systems which would raise flags or ring bells on the surface. It is possible that this is the origin of the phrase "saved by the bell". However, this phrase has been used in boxing parlance since at least the 1800s, so this seems the less likely etymology. Without air supply, as in the Italian model, this naturally would be useless without vigilant guards above ground. As such, undertakers were hired to stay in the graveyard at night to watch out for such signals. In 1890, a family designed and built a burial vault at the Wildwood Cemetery in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, with an internal hatch to allow the victim of accidental premature burial to escape. The vault had an air supply and was lined in felt to protect a panic-stricken victim from self-inflicted injury before escape. Bodies were to be removed from the casket before interment. In 1995, an Italian coffin manufacturer introduced a model with a beeper and intercom system.

See whole story at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buried_alive

No comments:

Post a Comment