0

# Is skydiving really safe?

## Recommended Posts

mcstain

REPEATED EXPOSURE TO RISK IS CUMULATIVE.

you can calculate your relative risk of death over a lifetime of jumping by specifying the number of jumps you expect to do.

I once estimated, using number of USPA members vs. number of deaths/year, that we statistically run a
Statistically, it looks like we're quite a bit safer than when I started jumping in '74. Plus I try to do the right things to not get killed. So far, so good. )

##### Share on other sites
mkelly3078

You might want to try coming up with a statistic of how likely you are to get blasted on here as opposed to receiving solid advice.

You are wise for someone so new to the sport.

##### Share on other sites
brodg

My reasoning is as follows, let´s take year 2013 as an example: 24 fatalities in 3.200.000 jumps, in other words a fatality every 133.333 jumps. That doesn't sound so bad, doesn't it? In fact if you give that number to someone who doesn't jump they might say the sport is very safe. This is because we assume that we have a chance of 1 in 133.333 (0.00075%) of getting killed, and while this might be true for someone that only does a single jump in his whole life, it's not even close for a regular jumper.

I want to be an active regular jumper so I wanted to know how this odds apply to me. I assumed an active jumper does around 10.000 jumps throughout his life. If this is the case then the statistics change from 1 in 133.333 (0.00075%) to 10.000 in 133.333 (7.5%). That's right!: If everyone has the same chance of dying per jump and you want to do 10.000 jumps in your life, you have a 7.5% chance of getting killed! How fucked up is that?

Your basing your math of 10k jumps over a 3.2 million jump year and not over a lifetime of jumping. If that was over say... 30 years then it would be 96 million jumps if the jump/year rate was the same. I you were jumping 10k times a year than it would be equivalent.
So, say you logged 200 jumps last year. That means you had a 0.15% chance one of those deaths would have been yours.
Lots of other factors like do you swoop? Do you AAD? Do you RSL, Do you CReW? all play factors as well. A conservative jumper's stats would decline while an aggressive down sizer / swooper's stats would climb.

##### Share on other sites
Andy9o8

***The statistics are entirely irrelevant.

You can die skydiving. If that is not acceptable then don't do it. If a student (tandem/SL) ask me whats the worst that can happen to them, I'll them that they can die. If they can't deal with that then they shouldn't be jumping.

This.

Of course it's dangerous. But with risk attenuation, it's acceptably safe - for me. The exact same factors make it unacceptably dangerous for others - for them.

No. Not This. Statistics are definitely NOT irrelevant. They are a useful way to measure risk, and all that the word safe means is a yes answer to the question "Is the level of risk of death or serious injury below a certain commonly understood level"

It's that "safe" risk level that is hard to quantify. It is definitely non-zero. For example if said to my wife, "I am going to the post office and mailing a package," we could try to calculate what the risk of death is, either by car crash or disgruntled postal employee, and the fact is the risk is low enough that I and my wife would for all practical purposes view that as a safe activity. She would fully expect me to return alive, and would not spend any time worrying about me while I was gone.

If I said to my wife, "I am going to ride on the back of Steve's bike while he jumps over 10 cars end to end for the 1st time", we could calculate the risk of death, and decide the risk is high enough that it is NOT a safe activity.

Skydiving is somewhere in between these two extremes. We have a pretty good idea what the risk/odds are for it, but lining that risk level up with the average person's risk level definition of "safe" is not easy.

Most skydivers solution for this is to qualify the term "safe", using phrases like "it is pretty safe", or "it is not perfectly safe". That is an imperfect solution, but more helpful that a yes or no answer.
It's flare not flair, brakes not breaks, bridle not bridal, "could NOT care less" not "could care less".

##### Share on other sites
brodg

I must say I’m amazed with how many condescending assholes this forum has, specially coming from such a friendly community (skydivers); you guys must have very sad lives to be so critic and arrogant about everything.

Ummmm? Kettle - Pot?
Birdshit & Fools Productions

"Son, only two things fall from the sky."

##### Share on other sites
me: "oh this should be interesting..."

##### Share on other sites
Things more dangerous than skydiving

Texting while driving: 6000 deaths per year
Falling out of bed: 450 deaths per year (USA only)
Icicles: 100 people per year (Russia only)
Jellyfish: 20-40 deaths per year (Philippines only)
Dogs: 34 deaths per year (USA only)
Falling coconuts: 150 deaths per year
Champagne Corks: 24 deaths per year
Ladders: 355 deaths per year (USA only)
Lightning: 24000 deaths per year

I'll take my chances in the sky.

##### Share on other sites
>Falling out of bed: 450 deaths per year (USA only)

You can avoid skydiving. You can't avoid sleep. Thus they're not really comparable.

##### Share on other sites
Nothing is going to compare directly. But if you want to avoid falling out of bed I guess you could always sleep on the floor.

##### Share on other sites
In 1978 at the age of 21, I thought skydiving would be great.
In 1995 at the age of 37, I rode with Golden Knights on a jump, tied to the plane right at the door so I could take pictures, and I knew I would jump if given the chance. I didn't pursue it.
In 2011 I was watching some Jeb videos on Youtube and saw this quote by Helen Keller, "Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing." This was the same day my mother suggested I find time to do the things in life that I really wanted to do before I got too old to enjoy them. I was 54 at the time and started skydiving a couple of months later.

I think Helen nailed it.
Instructor quote, “What's weird is that you're older than my dad!”

##### Share on other sites
shift

Nothing is going to compare directly. But if you want to avoid falling out of bed I guess you could always sleep on the floor.

All of my skydiving friends sleep. I've yet to have one of them die falling out of bed, and most of them sleep in a bed (or other more dangerous places, like the concrete pad behind the bar). I stopped counting how many died skydiving.

Don't kid yourself.
Remster

##### Share on other sites
shift

Nothing is going to compare directly. But if you want to avoid falling out of bed I guess you could always sleep on the floor.

Some people just need a proper crib...

##### Share on other sites
shift

Nothing is going to compare directly. But if you want to avoid falling out of bed I guess you could always sleep on the floor.

Yeah, but if you ever fall out if it, you're likely to be boned!
I'm trying to teach myself how to set things on fire with my mind. Hey... is it hot in here?

##### Share on other sites
A few years ago I tried to crunch some numbers to see how safe skydiving was compared to driving. What I came up with was that making one skydive was as dangerous as driving around 1000 miles in a car. Maybe you can see if you can replicate my "study" :)

##### Share on other sites
megamalfunction

A few years ago I tried to crunch some numbers to see how safe skydiving was compared to driving. What I came up with was that making one skydive was as dangerous as driving around 1000 miles in a car. Maybe you can see if you can replicate my "study" :)

You can find the numbers on a "micromort" chart. 9 micromorts per jump by US stats. 230 miles per micromort, driving....if you can believe the Internet.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micromort

Instructor quote, “What's weird is that you're older than my dad!”

##### Share on other sites
shift

Nothing is going to compare directly. But if you want to avoid falling out of bed I guess you could always sleep on the floor.

Pool Noodle. Put it under the fitted sheet next to the edge. If you have 2 open sides, then use 2 pool noodles. Poof! You can get shitfaced, go to bed and that pool noodle(s) will keep you safe.
My grammar sometimes resembles that of magnetic refrigerator poetry... Ghetto

##### Share on other sites
shift

Things more dangerous than skydiving

Texting while driving: 6000 deaths per year
Falling out of bed: 450 deaths per year (USA only)
Icicles: 100 people per year (Russia only)
Jellyfish: 20-40 deaths per year (Philippines only)
Dogs: 34 deaths per year (USA only)
Falling coconuts: 150 deaths per year
Champagne Corks: 24 deaths per year
Ladders: 355 deaths per year (USA only)
Lightning: 24000 deaths per year

Wrong, wrong, wrong. You've made a fundamental mistake here to claim that skydiving is safer than these activities based purely on the number of deaths per year. The difference is the relative frequency with which people are exposed to these risks.

How many people get out of bed in the US each year? Billions. How many died from doing so in a year? Only 450. There are far fewer skydives completed each year than the number of people that get out of bed in one day in the US. For this reason alone, it would be reasonable to expect the rate of death from getting out of bed to be higher than skydiving, simply because it is done more often by more people.

Getting out of bed is extremely safe, but for a tiny percentage of people it results in their death. Let's assume that 300 million people get out of bed every day in the US. If 450 people die doing this each year, than the average risk of death from performing this activity is 0.00000041%. This is much lower than the 0.0075% chance you have of dying from skydiving based on the yearly statistics.

Let's also look at the champagne statistic quickly, because the numbers of deaths caused per year are the same for champagne corks and skydiving. 304 million bottles of champagne were sold in 2013 (this is just the sales figures for genuine champagne, not including any other sparkling wine with a cork that pops out). Compare this to the 3.2 million skydives that took place for the same number of deaths, and you'll see that opening a bottle of champagne is much safer than skydiving.

To really compare relative risk of activities, you need to consider the frequency with which they are performed. If not, you could use faulty logic to claim that naked skydives are 100% safe because no-one died skydiving naked last year.

I agree with others like JeffCA who have stressed the importance of making good decisions to reduce your exposure to risk while skydiving, but trying to argue that you're safer being a skydiver than getting out of bed in the morning is ridiculous.

##### Share on other sites

I've been jumping for 3 years in Florida all year round. Doing roughly 5-10 jumps per weekend. Out of those 300+jumps I have scraped my finger on a door, and grass stained my shorts.

While not skydiving in the same time frame, I gave myself a hernia requiring surgery while moving furniture. And got hit on a bicycle, while on a sidewalk, by an asshole doing a test drive, in a brand new vw. I sprained an ankle, tore a nerve in my back and implanted a bunch if glass in my leg. Oh and my fancy mountain bike was totaled. I went to invasion the next morning.

Life is fucking dangerous! I'm apparently more likely to die walking or riding a bike down a sidewalk than skydiving so I'll live my life to the fullest. Besides, STATISTICALLY you're more likely to die in a car wreck on your way to the dz, than actually jumping. Just saying....

I was that kid jumping out if his tree house with a bed sheet. My dad wouldn't let me use the ladder to try the roof...

##### Share on other sites

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lies,_damned_lies,_and_statistics
Always remember the brave children who died defending your right to bear arms. Freedom is not free.

##### Share on other sites
Alexg3265

Besides, STATISTICALLY you're more likely to die in a car wreck on your way to the dz, than actually jumping. Just saying....

Can you show your working for that? Because I'd argue that your claim is false (statistically).

It's really hard to compare skydiving with other activities like driving because of their relative frequency. The risk of dying on any one skydive is approximately 1/133,333, but of course this is influenced by your skill level and the risks of the particular jump you might be taking part in (wingsuit, relative work, freeflying).

For driving, one way to compare the risk is by comparing the approximate distance travelled per fatality, and then working out the risk you expose yourself to on a yearly basis by driving and comparing that to the risk of making a given number of skydives in a year.

For example, I want to compare the risk of skydiving to driving. In Australia, there are 5.8 fatalities for every billion kilometres travelled by motor vehicle (including drivers, passengers, cyclists and motorcyclists). The average person drives 10,000km in a year, which represents an overall risk of death from driving in Australia of 1/17,241. In comparison, the risk of death from performing eight skydives in a year is approximately 1/16,666.

So while the odds of dying from skydiving per jump are lower compared a year of driving, once you jump more than 8 times in a year, skydiving represents the greater risk.

To put this another way, one jump is approximately equal in risk to 6 weeks worth of average driving (~1150km). I'm not sure where your dropzone is, but I'm guessing it isn't 1000km away. Therefore, driving to the dropzone is not statistically more dangerous than the jump itself.

Of course, there are so many variables involved in both of these activities that a comparison is essentially nonsensical. But I still think it's disingenuous to make the claim that the drive to the dropzone is more dangerous than skydiving overall. Again, I feel like statistics can be manipulated in many different ways to support vastly different arguments.

The fact remains that there are choices you can make both on the ground and in the air that will reduce your chances of being injured or killed while skydiving, and that's what we should be focusing our attention on.

##### Share on other sites
+1

I think we've sort of debunked the old saying, "you're more likely to die in a car accident on the way to the dropzone..." However, the old saying isn't THAT far off. A one jump a month habit is about as dangerous as driving a car regularly.

##### Share on other sites
JeffCa

According to the most recent USPA fatality summary, you can lower your risk of death during skydiving dramatically by

1. not participating in high-performance landings
2. installing an RSL/Skyhook
3. having an AAD that is turned on
4. proper gear selection and regular maintenance
5. cutting away malfunctioning canopies promptly instead of going far too low trying to fix them

About half of skydivers killed in 2013 in the United States didn't do one of those things. The fatality at our club in Japan also didn't follow them. Only one of these (#5) even takes place spontaneously in the sky. The others are decisions made on the ground (see my signature). And even #5 is easily avoidable by having a plan to handle such emergencies and sticking to it.

A few more:

6. Don't be a student (or seriously non-current).
7. Don't jump when winds/weather conditions are iffy.
8. Watch out for the other guy under canopy.
9. Pack your parachute as you would if your own child was going to jump it.

##### Share on other sites
Southern_Man

*** I must say I’m amazed with how many condescending assholes this forum has, specially coming from such a friendly community (skydivers);

Welcome to the internet

Don't forget that many skydivers were a-holes before the internet, too (and are a-holes in real life).

But, they occur in pretty much the same ratio as the rest of the populace. On or off the internet.
lisa
WSCR 594
FB 1023
CBDB 9

##### Share on other sites
I mean yeah I get what this is driving at, but this isn't statistical analysis. It's what's known as descriptive statistics. This kind of number crunching isn't useful for proper analysis because there's no determination of how a particular factor is weighted in risk analysis or whether the binary probability distribution is the right model to use.

Yeah it's a risky sport in the sense that you risk your life trusting a variety of factors to come together to get you back on the ground safely. However, are the deaths due to skydiving or the person skydiving? Sweet GLM analysis time. Shit, is this risk significant to p<0.05? wait, is 95% confidence that the risk is from skydiving and not the person enough? is 99% confidence a better reference? Was the linear model appropriate for this? What about a linear mixed model with random effects represented? Well feck, we now know that the risk is certainly from skydiving, but how do we quantify the risk? Do we use a basic probability distribution based on deaths? or does the data for skydiving follow a different pattern? exponential maybe? geometric distribution? oh yeah that's the one that fits the bill! Dammit! was the data given for the analysis even normal?!!

The above is what true statistical analysis feels like. It sucks, and at the end of the day, sometimes you want to punch people. Most people involved in daily risk assessment have computer programs that do everything for them, but each time the computer makes assumptions and if an assumption is inappropriate for the data given, then you'll get a result but it will be dead wrong. Sort of like the excuse "Well I plugged the numbers into the calculator so the answer MUST be 'CANNOT DIV BY 0'"

If none of this makes sense, blame statistics for being the half-child of maths. You'd need to compile the data in statistical software and do a lot more than divide deaths by jumps per year to get a value that matters. My opinion is that I enjoy the sport, I know there is increased risk due to my inexperience, but at the end of the day each jump I make is incredible and gives me a smile so that's what matters in my book. Is skydiving 100% safe? I'd just say fuck the statistics, I know it's not.
"I would rather be ashes than dust. I would rather be a majestic eagle riding a missile across the sky with sparklers than be an old couch potato." - Jack London (paraphrased)

##### Share on other sites
While I may be a noob to the sport...I am not one to statistics, as my job depends heavily on it.

The article below summarizes the topic well.

It touches on micromorts, which you should be using in your calculations. It covers skydiving, BASE, mountaineering, and SCUBA...activities that many people on this forum seem to enjoy.

The idea of what is safe and what is unsafe is subjective anyway...so there is no sense arguing over it.

Do what you can to mitigate the risks, and be honest with yourself...

http://www.skydivemag.com/article/how-dangerous-is-skydiving

## Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.