How Dangerous is Bungee Jumping?
Any adrenaline-seeker wants to try bungee jumping, just one of several thrilling extreme sports. Bungee jumping may be for you if you appreciate taking significant risks. However, you have to wonder: just how dangerous is bungee jumping?
What is Bungee Jumping?
When bungee jumping, the ankles are secured to a thick, elastic cord, allowing the jumper to land on their feet first. Bungee jumpers often launch themselves from tall structures like skyscrapers, bridges, or cranes. However, it has also been accomplished by moving objects.
As the jumper falls freely from a height, the cord extends, and as the line bounces back, the momentum lifts the jumper upwards. The elastic cord keeps moving up and down in a trampoline-like pattern until it runs out of juice.
The majority of bungee operations around the world are managed by skilled and knowledgeable professionals who use the best and most reliable equipment. They also abide by strict safety regulations. Although falling from such heights can seem alarming, bungee jumping is a risk-free hobby with a stellar safety record.
Bungee Jumping Equipment
Bungee jumping involves an elastic rope called a braided shock cable attached to the jumper’s ankle. The majority of bungee cables are made of natural rubber, which is used because of its inherent elasticity. For bungee jumping, a body and leg harnesses are connected to the line (back-up for the ankle attachment, for safety purposes).
The Risks of Bungee Jumping
You might still not be convinced that bungee jumping is safe. Here are the risks you should be aware of when considering how dangerous is bungee jumping.
Bungee jumping frequently leads to eye injuries because of the sharply increased pressure in the eyes. The sudden upward jerk of the elastic chord causes fluid to rush to your brain, increasing the blood pressure inside the blood vessels in your eyes.
This pressure increase can destroy your retina, the layer of cells at the back of your eye that directly communicates with your brain, as well as your conjunctiva, the thin mucous membrane covering your eyes. Usually, injuries to these areas of your eyes cause a temporary loss of vision. Spots, eye infections, and hemorrhages are all possible.
Your spine’s vertebrae and the delicate spinal cord they are supposed to protect could be harmed by the intense pressures your body encounters when the bungee cord pulls it back up. The most frequent injuries are compression fractures, broken bones in the spine, herniated discs, and spaces between the vertebrae.
Although these wounds are treatable, they can become too severe and irreparable. If the spinal cord within the vertebrae is damaged, quadriplegia, or the inability to move your arms and legs, may result.
Your neck is at risk when you bungee jump, and injuries can range from minor to severe. The final part of the jump can cause enough force to press against your neck muscles, cause pain, and briefly limit your range of motion by applying pressure to the delicate area of your body that connects your brain and spinal cord.
Additionally, a jumper’s neck has on occasion mistakenly become wrapped up in the bungee cord. When this happens, it can choke the jumper and restrict the blood flow to their brain, making breathing difficult or impossible. In these circumstances, the jumper must be saved as soon as possible to prevent death.
Unfortunately, deaths from bungee jumping can occur infrequently. If a jumper’s neck gets twisted in the cord for even a short period, his injury will be deadly. He is unable to get enough oxygen to his brain. Another frequent reason for fatal bungee jumping injuries is a too-long cable.
Because they neglected to consider the cord’s elasticity, individuals tumble and hit their skulls on the ground, dying from the impact. Even seasoned bungee jumpers can make these mistakes and endanger their lives. The day prior to the Super Bowl in 1997, a professional bungee jumper practicing for the halftime show at the Superdome banged her head on the cement floor during a jump and died due to head trauma.
Given that bungee jumping is a relatively new sport, it is difficult to establish whether there are any long-term health risks. According to doctors who have studied bungee jumpers, the hazards are minimal in the short term.
The most common complaint among jumpers in the moments after their jump is dizziness. This annoyance usually goes away before the day is over. A tiny percentage of participants said they experienced back or ankle musculoskeletal pain a few days after their jump. However, this pain usually went away soon.
How to Make Bungee Jumping Safe?
For a leap to be deemed safe, the bungee cord needs to be tied off in a secure location that won’t be affected by the additional weight. Steel railings or safety fences frequently provide great anchor points. Professionals will also ensure that the bungee rope is tied with weight-bearing knots to hold even while the jumpers are being pushed downward by gravity.
Some companies may place airbags, webbing, or slings directly below the jump space to guarantee jumpers’ safety. Locations with webbing and airbags might make the first jump for beginners safer.
Since the equipment might not operate properly in the rain, snow, or other unideal weather conditions, certain businesses may need to postpone jumps. Additionally, locations with low vision and unstable wind conditions are more likely to result in injuries.
A jump aspect that increases risk should be avoided. Work with experts and take all the safety measures you can.
Although there isn’t a set dress code for this sport, some attire helps maintain safety. Avoid wearing too loose clothing since it can restrict the bungee cord. Remove any jewelry or anything that could be dangerous if they fell off or came loose before jumping. Among them are spectacles, contact lenses, and jewelry.
Whether you are a novice, a lightly experienced, or a professional bungee jumper, there are three-part programs that teach skills like the inspection, testing, and maintenance of bungee equipment and how to use them. An apprenticeship period, bungee training, and rescue training make up the teachings.
The minimal requirements for each bungee operation would vary based on the height and complexity of the jump. The minimum age is usually 12 to 14 years old, and the maximum weight is typically 110 kg, provided that you are in decent physical and mental shape. 35 kg is the required minimum weight.
Women who are pregnant, those with high blood pressure, an irregular heartbeat, illnesses of the legs, back, respiratory system, or circulatory system, as well as those who have just had surgery, are advised against bungee jumping and should instead consult their doctors beforehand.
How dangerous is bungee jumping? Bungee jumping comes with risks, but so do all extreme sports. But as long as you prioritize safety and minimize risks, the activity can be safe and fun for you.
Injuries From Bungee Jumping
Bungee jumping may give you great thrills, but also may leave you with great injuries. After you free fall, the bungee cord tugs you back upward with a sudden and great force. The combination of this extreme force and dangling from a cord can cause varying degrees of injuries your eyes, spine and neck that can even be severe enough to result in death.
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Eye injuries are commonly the result of bungee jumps because of the dangerously high increase in pressure that occurs in the eyes. When the elastic chord suddenly jerks you upward, it causes fluid to flow to your head, which results in very high blood pressure inside the blood vessels in your eyes. Your retina — the thin layer of cells at the back of your eye that directly connects to your brain–and your conjunctiva — the thin mucous lining over your eyes — can be negatively affected by this increase in pressure. Injuries to these areas of your eyes usually cause temporary impairment of vision, explain Mario Cesar Moreira de Araujo, M.D. and Marcelo Riccio Facio, M.D. in a Sports Medicine article. Eye infections, seeing spots and hemorrhages may also occur.
The extreme forces your body is subject to as it is pulled back upward by the bungee cord can injure the vertebrae of your spine and the delicate spinal cord that they protect. Injuries typically include compression fractures — broken bones in the spine — and herniated discs and spaces between the vertebrae. While these injuries can be healed, they can also be severe and permanent. If the spinal cord inside the vertebrae is damaged it can result in forms of paralysis and quadriplegia — the inability to move your arms and legs.
Your neck is at risk during a bungee jump, and injury to it can range from mild to severe. The force on this fragile part of your body that connects your brain to your spinal cord during the final stage of the jump can be enough to strain your neck muscles, and cause pain and a temporary decrease in range of motion. There have also been instances of the bungee cord accidentally entangling a jumper’s neck. When this happens, it can cut off blood flow between the heart and the brain, or strangle the jumper and make him unable to breathe. In these instances, the jumper needs to be rescued immediately to prevent death.
Death, unfortunately, does occasionally occur as a result of bungee jumping. If a jumper’s neck is entangled in the cord for even a few minutes, his brain cannot get enough oxygen and his injury will be fatal. Another common reason people sustain fatal injuries from bungee jumping is because the cord is too long. People incorrectly take into account the elasticity of the cord and hit their heads on the ground, dying from impact. Even professional bungee jumpers make these mistakes and are at risk for fatal injuries. The day before the Super Bowl in 1997, a professional bungee jumper who was practicing for the halftime show at the Superdome hit her head on the cement floor during a jump and died from head injuries.
The Relative Risks of Bungee Jumping, Skydiving and Ballooning
Skydiving, bungee jumping and ballooning are adventure sports, and all adventure sports contain some risk. Factors affecting the risk include equipment, landings, weather and prior medical conditions. Because the factors influencing the risk are numerous and variable, it is difficult, if not impossible, to calculate the risk involved.
A common concern in adventure sports is equipment. However, equipment failure is rarely a cause of skydiving fatalities. Certainly, there are times when parachutes don’t open, but reasonable skydivers use a reserve parachute. Having both parachutes fail to open is exceptionally rare.
According to the instructors at the Bungee Jumper website, critical injuries and bungee-related deaths usually result from poorly maintained equipment or miscalculations of cord length.
While hot air ballooning seems to be a safe alternative, there are certain risks associated with its equipment too. Overfilling the propane tank can cause fires when the balloon is in the air.
Skydivers run the risk of sprains, dislocations, broken hands or legs, and bumps and bruises during rough landings. While these injuries aren’t fatal, it pays to be especially careful during landings.
While miscalculations of cord length are a factor in bungee jump accidents, other fatalities occur when the foot slips out of the harness altogether.
Balloon accidents are usually the result of collisions with power lines or the ground. The impact can cause broken bones or muscle sprains.
Sudden or shifting winds are the leading cause of skydiving fatalities. Strong winds can sweep you away and cause you to crash.
The wind is also a factor for bungee jumpers. If the wind is so strong that it could blow the cord into nearby rocks, bridges or trees, the jump operator will call off the jump.
Most hot air balloon accidents are related to the weather. Balloonists must get clearance from the airport before taking off, but sometimes winds and rains can blow in quickly and unexpectedly, blowing the balloon off course. The owners of Texas Air Adventures recommend not flying on days with “rain, fog, low cloud cover, or on the day after a very hard rainstorm, as the ground conditions may be too muddy for landing.”
The instructors at Safe Skydiving note that skydiving is not a physically exhausting sport, but it does require a modicum of physical fitness. “People with heart diseases, fever, osteoporosis and similar diseases should think twice before skydiving and do it only after consultation with specialist. The first skydiving jumps can be quite stressful so you’d better be in good mental health as well.”
Bungee jumping also presents a risk of medical complications. One risk of particular concern to women is uterine prolapse. The speed and pressure of bungee jumping can cause the uterus to tip and, in some cases, slide out of position and even out of the body itself. Eye trauma is another serious health risk of bungee jumping caused by the pressure of the jump. Dislocations, bumps and bruises are common superficial injuries caused by the bungee cord itself.
If you have any medical conditions, you should check with your physician before booking a ride in a hot air balloon. Since balloon rides can last more than four hours, you should carry any necessary medication on the ride. Pregnant women are advised by most ballooning companies not to ride in hot air balloons.