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dthames

A lesson learned, safety planning

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This is mainly for newer jumpers. We are all told what to do to be safe. Knowing what to do is one thing. Developing a plan to carry it out is another. I told my kids to learn from the mistakes of others and don’t repeat them. Some time ago on one the DZ.com forums someone posted a link to a video Dirty Jobs Safety Third clip. The point of the clip is that it is YOUR job to make yourself safe.

We are taught “check your handles”, over and over. Most of us do check our handles and feel we are safer for it. But looking at myself, I see I was missing something. Saturday I got a nice little lesson. I was doing a less than good job at developing a safety plan for me. Was I being “safe”? I would have said Yes. But……

I have been doing short freefalls from a C-182. On some exits I start from being on my knees at the door. On my knees it is easy to check my handles, legs straps, and chest straps before exit. But Saturday I was on my butt and moved up from the position behind the pilot to the position beside the pilot and facing the rear of the aircraft. In doing so, I must have pushed the plastic cylinder handle up in my BOC pouch a bit. When I reached for it in free fall, I was not able to grab it. But somehow when I grabbed I found that I had a finger inside the end of the pull. It was not a problem to pull out, grab, and throw. But it took longer than if things were right. It could have easily went to a reserve ride.

What I was missing and urge others to do, is to make up a sequence of steps that you own. I mean if someone tells me to do 4 things before I exit, I can learn to do them. But if I take ownership and have my own 4 or 5 or 6 things I do to enhance MY safety there is a very good chance I will follow my rules over someone else’s. My rules I agree with for good reason…they are mine. I don’t mean ignore what you are taught, but take ownership of what you know. Until it changes your behavior, you have not learned the lesson.

So next time I am exit like that, when I put my feet out on the step, my right hand will go into that pull and check it. No matter if I checked it 20 seconds before, the moving of the feet to the step will be followed by the checking of the pull. Now I am looking for other things that I may not have taken ownership on.
Instructor quote, “What's weird is that you're older than my dad!”

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Funny I really don't like the plastic cylinders. I've never had a problem, but they always worry me that a finger could get trapped in it.

Other than that you're right, better finding any problems on the ground or plane than in freefall.
Experienced jumper - someone who has made mistakes more often than I have and lived.

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>So next time I am exit like that, when I put my feet out on the step, my
>right hand will go into that pull and check it.

I recommend you do not do gear checks while exiting. A few reasons:

1) When exiting your attention needs to be on other things - where you are taking grips, traffic, spot, count etc.

2) If you do notice something off - what do you do about it? It is generally not all that safe to try to climb back in, and if you are about to deploy (open container or whatever) messing with it is a very bad idea once you are exiting. The best solution once outside the airplane is to exit immediately, and thus delaying that by checking more often is not a good idea.

3) Checking handles increases your odds of dislodging something, and during exit is the worst time for that to happen.

That being said, I do think it's a very good idea to check your handles:

1) inside the plane before you climb out

2) if something bad happens during freefall (i.e. you get hit hard or feel something start happening behind you.)

3) and of course as a planned part of an AFF or recurrency dive.

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Quote

>So next time I am exit like that, when I put my feet out on the step, my
>right hand will go into that pull and check it.

I recommend you do not do gear checks while exiting. A few reasons:

1) When exiting your attention needs to be on other things - where you are taking grips, traffic, spot, count etc.

2) If you do notice something off - what do you do about it? It is generally not all that safe to try to climb back in, and if you are about to deploy (open container or whatever) messing with it is a very bad idea once you are exiting. The best solution once outside the airplane is to exit immediately, and thus delaying that by checking more often is not a good idea.

3) Checking handles increases your odds of dislodging something, and during exit is the worst time for that to happen.

That being said, I do think it's a very good idea to check your handles:

1) inside the plane before you climb out

2) if something bad happens during freefall (i.e. you get hit hard or feel something start happening behind you.)

3) and of course as a planned part of an AFF or recurrency dive.



Yes, putting your foot on the step is a pre-climbout move that is done while sitting on your butt, waiting on the spot.

I was not suggesting checking after climbout nor in exit position.
Instructor quote, “What's weird is that you're older than my dad!”

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Thank you for sharing! That really makes me think outside of the box so to speak and rally emphasize the fact that in this sport that I am about to embark on that is MY responsibility to really take what I will be taught and at the same time go the extra to ensure my safety. I'll will definitely remember your post!

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