General Question

Zen's avatar

What is more frightening to you: drowning (flood, water, confined spaces) or burning in a fire?

Asked by Zen (7743points) April 16th, 2009

Phobias? Experience? Nightmares? Been there, barely escaped alive? Didn’t escape and typing this from heaven on your laptop?

Personally, I love the water, so I don’t fear it – not even a Titanic type episode, or Jaws… but I am no pyromaniac, that’s for sure. Keep that zippo lighter away from me please, and don’t smoke in my direction. Thanks.

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30 Answers

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janbb's avatar


Anyway, the answer for me is definitely burning. I love being in water and while I’m sure drowning is scarey it doesn’t seem as actively painful as burning would be. Burning to death terrifies me.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

funny you should ask, I was going to write a short horror story about a guy (that everyone mistakenly thought was dead) who wakes up just as they fire up the cremation furnace. I had the conversation of the mortician and his helper all figured out, as well as the gruesome details of the man’s short-lived suffering in that big metal box, but I just couldn’t bring myself to write it. Too creepy, even for me.

So yeah, drowning seems a better way to go. Fire is scary as Hell. no pun intended.

sevenfourteen's avatar

For me it’d have to be drowning. Even though burning might take a while, I think there’s a lot more that goes into drowning. If you burn to death it’s all the same feeling- hot and painful. I always have this picture that drowning would look something like the titanic, slow and even if the water is peaceful your mind is going crazy. And you only have 1 breath but it’s the moment you decide to give up and breathe in that you literally give up on your life. Maybe I should mention the Titanic movie gives me the stop-breathing-in-your-sleep-because-you-dream-you’re-drowning kind of reaction therefore it’s banned from my house.

Bluefreedom's avatar

I think that drowning would be the most or one of the most frightening ways to die. Burning would probably be at the top of the list for the most painful way to die.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@sevenfourteen while drowning does seem pretty bad, once you take that first lungful of water, it’s pretty much over. With burning however, the pain is much more intense and lasts much longer. Ever burnt your finger on the stove? Imagine that all over. shudder From what I’ve read, burning to death takes awhile, and every nerve ending is exploding with pain until your body stops living, plus you have smoke and fire in your lungs. That strikes me as much worse than drowning.

Now freezing to death, that’s the way to go. You get sleepy, and then you lose consciousness. Sounds easy and gentle enough.

sevenfourteen's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra – I agree, if I had to pick a tragic way to die it would be freezing to death. Except if it was like an arctic tundra cold it might hurt a little first with the frostbite until it all went numb.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

Drowning for sure. I don’t know how to swim, & when I get in water up past my waist, I start to panic. I can’t imagine going under water & not being able to breathe. Yes, fire would be the most painful.

Zen, it’s funny you should mention a Zippo. Over night lastnight, there was a house fire here that started from someone looking for something under their couch by using a lighter. The house is completely destroyed & a man upstairs was life flighted to the Iowa City burn unit.

mattbrowne's avatar

I think a strong fire creates one of the worst forms of pain. We all became shocked witnesses of people jumping out of the windows of the World Trade Center after the planes full of kerosene hit the buildings.

cak's avatar

Burning. Drowning scares me, but burning, that scares the daylights out of me. Thinking of the pain, the fear, choking on the smoke. Very scary.

loser's avatar

Fire scares me more than drowning, big time!

casheroo's avatar

I think burning might hurt more, I’d probably pass out from panicking if I were drowning. I can’t swim, and I get super freaked out in the water…

Zen's avatar

Thanks for your comments. Lurve.

aviona's avatar

Drowning. I’ve almost drowned before, so I guess that instilled some fear in me. I can swim fine, but when I get out into the ocean, away from the shore pretty far, I just feel such a lack of control, even with my swimming skills. I can just imagine myself getting tired, not having anything to hold on to and…just…letting…go….


essieness's avatar

I think burning in a fire would be one of the shittiest ways to go. Or a plane crash. The idea of having time to process the fact that I’m about to die a brutal death is mortifying to me. I’d much rather be blown to pieces by a bomb or something. Quick and easy.

hearkat's avatar

I love the water and am an excellent swimmer; but even great swimmers can get pulled under by a rip current or another situation. My son got pulled by a rip current last summer and had to be rescued by lifeguards.

There is an amusement park near me that used to have a Haunted Castle where my brother and many of his friends worked back in the day. A few years later, there was a horrible fire, and I could not close my eyes that night for the thought of the smoke and flames. And on 9/11, I had a similar experience at the thought of how horrible it must have been for people to choose to jump to certain death than to stay in there.

So both terrify me.

filmfann's avatar

I drowned as a child, and remember it vividly. I didn’t panic, and understood what was happening. My parents were afraid it would cause me to be afraid of water, but I wasn’t.
My big fear would be being buried alive. It has been since I was a child. That part of Kill Bill part 2 when The Bride is in the grave really got me.

Zen's avatar

@filmfann Wow. I know what you mean about that scene in KB – that was pretty intense and crazy. You reminded me of my own fear of confined spaces, and of being buried alive. Thanks! (JK)

Anyway, glad you aren’t afraid of water as a result of your near-death experience in water. You’re lucky; as a lifeguard and swimming instructor, I’ve encountered countless kids, and even adults, who still wade in the children’s pool as a result of something in their past.


I’ve been enjoying your posts immensely.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

speaking of being buried alive, I had that happen once, when I was helping a neighbor dig a trench and the side of the trench caved in and covered me with dirt. I could see a little light (and air, thankfully) from between my legs and feet (I was bending over with a shovel when the whole thing let loose) and he kept telling me not to panic as he dug me out. It took him about five minutes, and I did my best not to panic, but I was only about 16, and panicking was pretty easy.

Strauss's avatar

I think I would be more scared of burning. I like the water, and I love to swim and visit the ocean. I also think maybe it’s a hope that if I were drowning, there would be a “rapture of the deep”, or some type of experience at the end.

I used to have a recurring dream about being in a close space, and have experienced some claustrophobia, so I think being buried alive would probably be traumatic for me. As far as being burned alive, I think it would be the most painful, and I have avoidance issues with pain.

Ricky's avatar

Where does fear get you at that moment? Is it more harmful then helpful?

Strauss's avatar

@Ricky I think fear would kick in the survival instinct. Sometimes fear can overpower logic, sometimes it can seem to enhance it. It varies with the person and event.

tadpole's avatar

as long as it’s over in a flash…...

noodle_poodle's avatar

fire defiantly….until your 5th skin layer containing nerves burn off you will feel the most ridiculous amounts of pain…compared to that drowning would be relatively peaceful

AlyxCaitlin's avatar

The idea of suffering for a few minutes then dying, doesn’t sound too ace to me

tadpole's avatar

with fire comes smoke, which is quick to take effect…drowning must be a slower process? which is why i fear it more, especially in a confined space…yuck, horrible…..

mYcHeMiCaLrOmAnCe's avatar

drowning is more frightening to me. I’m not sure why, but it is.

Austinlad's avatar

I think buring in fire might be more painful, although I have experienced pleurisy (I’ve also seen it spelled pleursey), which causes your lungs to seize and believe me, it’s no picnic being unable to breathe. Frankly, neither option nor any other violent form of death works for me.

Shinimegami's avatar

Burning much more intense painful, drowning not such bad pain.

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