Before days of modern medicine, many feared being buried alive. As a result, safety coffins were invented in case the living were mispronounced dead. A string attached to a bell allowed the victim to alert those above
In 17th century England, it is documented that a woman by the name of Alice Blunden was buried alive. As the story goes, she was so knocked out after having imbibed a large quantity of poppy tea that a doctor holding a mirror to her nose and mouth pronounced her dead. (Tea made from dried, unwashed seed pods would have contained morphine and codeine, which are sedatives.)
Her family quickly made arrangements for her burial, but two days after she was laid in the ground, children playing near her grave heard noises. Their school master went to check the gravesite for himself. He found that Blunden was still alive, but it took another day to exhume her. She was so close to death that she was returned to her grave, where a guard stood by before deserting his post. The next morning, she was found dead, but only after struggling to free herself once more.