Death Button

Here is something you didn’t know.  When you are bullraking for clams in your chest waders, in about three feet of water, you can get an agonizing pain in your ankle.  Why? The death button!  The death button (d.b.) is the fold in your jeans where the cuff meets the inseam, creating a small button where the jean material is overlapped about six times.  So what’s the problem?
Pressure at 1 meter beneath the surface of the water is 1.1 atmospheres or approximately 1.1x14.696 pound-force per square inch = 16.166 lbs/square inch.  The d.b. is approximately 0.5”x0.5” or 0.25 of a square inch.  The stiff rubber outer of the wader boot receives pressure from the surrounding water and presses on the d.b. effectively concentrating the pressure from a large area onto a small focused area.  If we assume that the rubber is more or less rigid and we conservatively estimate that approximately 2 square inches of the boot transmits pressure to the d.b., than we can calculate the actual pressure in pounds per square inch applied to your ankle.  Calculating: 16.166 lbs/sq. inch x 2 square inches =  32.332 lbs of pressure transmitted to the d.b.   The actual pressure at the death button in lbs/sq. inch is four times this amount since the d.b. has an area of  ¼ of  an inch or a total of 129.328 lbs/sq inch!!! OUCH!!!  The way we prevent this from happening is to fold our cuffs and tuck them into our socks, which effectively neutralizes the d.b.  But if you forget… I think you can say that the quahog may be the deadliest catch, no?


  1. One could wear pajamas, as one probably should at that hour.

  2. Good point Jay, why get out of them at all