When planning a bungee jump, it’s easy to let your mind get clouded with all that could go wrong. What if you slip off the platform or the line snaps? What if you can’t get lowered to the ground? With all these thoughts swirling around in your head, you can’t help but wonder, just how safe is bungee jumping?
Bungee jumping is a lot safer than many give it credit for, as only 18 bungee-related deaths occurred between 1986 and 2002. From 2015 to 2018, another five deaths were recorded, with a grand total of 23 recorded bungee deaths in 32 years.
If you have more questions about bungee jumping safety, don’t worry, as we’ve got the answers. Keep reading for an in-depth look into the safety of bungee jumping and some of our top safety tips!
Bungee Jumping Death Statistics
Let’s get the grim stuff out of the way: the rate of bungee jumping deaths. Health resource Health Research Funding quotes the rate of reported bungee jumping deaths between 1986 and 2002 at 18.
That may sound like a lot, but it’s a span of 16 years, so the rate of deaths was a little over one a year. Health Research Funding also notes that your accident risk when bungee jumping is one in 500,000, and the stats back that up. There just weren’t that many bungee deaths in that period.
Okay, but 2002 was a long time ago. Surely, there is more current bungee jumping death statistics available, right?
You would be correct. While there’s a gap between 2002 and 2015, we have more current data from 2015 to 2018.
In that four-year span, five reported bungee jumping fatalities occurred. That’s again a little more than one death a year, which is virtually unchanged from 1986.
What about the years between 2002 and 2015? We’re not quite sure! Statistics on bungee-related deaths are hard enough to come by, so it’s anyone’s guess why those 13 years remain unaccounted for.
We can’t even say for certain whether any deaths occurred when bungee jumping from 2002 to 2015. Historical data suggests they did, probably a little more than one death a year, so maybe around 14 or 15. Without any official data to back up that assertion, it remains just that.
You should also be aware that the fatality information compiled in this section only accounts for reported deaths. If a bungee jumping death wasn’t recorded, it doesn’t contribute to the numbers.
We can’t say how many unrecorded bungee-related deaths might have transpired, but we can’t imagine it’s many.
So why do bungee jumping fatalities occur in the first place? According to Health Research Funding, the primary reason is human error.
Here are some examples of mistakes that could be fatal.
Not Listening to Instructions
When your instructor provides guidance during a bungee jump, they’re not trying to be a know-it-all. They’re imparting information to you that could save your life. Ignoring it or going against it is a good way to get yourself killed.
Bungee Jumping on More Than One Cord
Although doubling up on the bungee cords might seem like a safety measure, it’s actually anything but. Even if they are identical, the two cords receive pressure at different points and will not stretch the same.
This puts your safety at risk.
Going Bungee Jumping When You Shouldn’t
As discussed on the blog, not everyone is cut out for bungee jumping. We don’t even mean when it comes to your fear and anxiety levels; some people simply aren’t healthy enough for it.
When these people forego medical advice and jump anyway, they’re putting their lives in their own hands.
Bungee Jumping While Under the Influence
Although substances like drugs or alcohol can take the edge off and lower one’s inhibitions, that doesn’t ever make it a safe or smart decision to bungee jump while under the influence.
Harness Falling Off
Your harness should be strapped on tight when bungee jumping. If you’re doing your own jumps outside of a bungee company, you might choose the wrong size harness, the wrong kind, or not secure it enough. This increases your risk of a fatality when jumping.
Bungee jumping companies should inspect all equipment before any jump to ensure it’s all in working order. Otherwise, no one should be allowed to jump until the equipment issue is fixed.
Bungee Jumping Injury Statistics
What about the risk of hurting oneself when bungee jumping? That risk is certainly not zero, so let’s talk further about it.
A 2012 report in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport reports that the injury risk when BASE jumping is between 0.4 and 0.5 percent.
By the way, BASE jumping is short for Building, Antenna, Span, Earth and does not solely refer to bungee jumping.
The injury rate for BASE jumping is at least five times higher than skydiving and up to eight times higher.
Most jumpers injured are between the ages of 30 and 40 and are typically men. The rate of injuries that men experienced compared to women is 10:1.
That’s about all the data we have, as even the journal mentions that injury data is sparse.
The numbers tell us that bungee jumping might produce more injuries than skydiving, but the injury rate is still incredibly low at under one percent. Of course, we don’t know how many participants were involved in the study to arrive at those numbers.
The injury rate is still low even if the sample size was relatively small. If the sample size was larger, then there’s an even greater disparity between the number of bungee jumpers and the number of injuries.
Not sue how the experience will be? Check out the video of my latest bungee jumping adventure at the Bridge to Nowhere.
Is Bungee Jumping Safer or Less Safe Than Skydiving? What About Other High-Octane Activities?
Naturally, after seeing the numbers above, you will have more questions. How safe is bungee jumping in relation to other activities?
Let’s compare the fatality indices of various activities to the fatality index for bungee jumping, which is one in 500,000.
Related Reading: What Does Bungee Jumping Feel Like?
Although BASE jumping is reported to be injurious, its fatality index is rather low, only one in 60. According to a 2007 report published in The Journal of Trauma, out of 20,850 reported jumps, one in 2,317 resulted in a fatality.
In 100,000 jumps, 45 people died.
Exploring the ocean’s depths when scuba diving can also be dangerous, with a fatality index of one in 34,400. That’s slightly lower than bungee jumping by 15,600 deaths.
Kraft Davies Olsson, PLLC, a law firm, reports that every year in the United States, about 80 divers will die when scuba diving. Out of 100,000 divers, the death rate is between 3.4 and 4.2.
What if you prefer the slopes more than the waters? Skiing is inherently dangerous, with a fatality rate of one in 1,400,000. That’s well over 500,000 more than the rate of bungee jumping deaths.
The National Ski Areas Association reports that between 2001 and 2011, 40.6 people died per year snowboarding or skiing.
For those curious, the fatality index for snowboarding is one in 2,200,000, so it’s also a high-risk sport.
Staying on ground level is safer than taking to the skies, as mountain hiking has a fatality index of one in 15,700.
The National Park Service, via a 2015 article in The Washington Post, reports that up to 150 United States residents will die hiking every year.
The Post found that drowning is the most common cause of death, followed by vehicular accidents, falls, suicides, avalanches, preexisting medical conditions, heat exposure, cold exposure, and wildlife attacks.
Even a common activity like swimming poses many risks, with the fatality index one in 1,000,000. That’s twice the rate of recorded deaths compared to bungee jumping.
The CDC reports that the US experiences 4,000 unintentional drownings per year, which is roughly 11 deaths a day. Another 8,000 drownings are nonfatal.
What about skydiving, another skyborne activity in the same vein as bungee jumping? The fatality index for skydiving is one in 167,000, so skydiving is safer than bungee jumping.
The United States Parachute Association reported only 10 skydiving deaths in 2021, the lowest rate ever. The fatality index rate was at an all-time high in the 1960s and has gradually come down and stayed down as safety advancements have progressed.
7 Bungee Jumping Safety Tips
Although bungee jumping isn’t as safe as some of the activities we examined in the last section by comparing fatality indices, we want to remind you that the rate of deaths over decades of data is very low.
You can and likely will have a safe bungee jumping experience every time. You can do some things to increase your safety, so let’s look at safety tips to wrap up.
1. Choose a Reputable Bungee Company
Many bungee jumping companies have sterling reputations, but some less-than-scrupulous ones are out there. It’s up to you to sniff out the ones worth jumping with versus those that you should give a wide berth.
The best way to find a quality bungee-jumping company is to read reviews. If no one has anything positive to say about a bungee company, don’t entrust your wellbeing to them!
2. Listen to Your Instructor
Reiterating our point from before, your bungee instructor is a trained professional whose job it is to make the experience of jumping fun and safe. They’re not giving you information to be condescending but to inform you.
Always listen to what they tell you and follow their instructions as closely as possible.
3. Ask Questions If You Have Them
If you have any reservations ahead of the jump, don’t hesitate to air them out. For example, you can ask if any medical services like first air are on hand and if so, where.
You might ask if the equipment has been inspected, when, and if the staff at the bungee-jumping company have any proof.
You can quiz the staff on the safety rules or even ask your instructor to repeat themselves or provide more clarification. They’ll be happy to!
4. Don’t Bungee Jump If Your Doctor Doesn’t Recommend It
If you have a heart condition or you’re pregnant, then your doctor will not recommend bungee jumping. Other medical conditions can preclude safe jumping and could cause your doctor to turn down your request.
Although your doctor can’t help what you do outside of their office, you’re wise to take their advice to heart. Deaths from medical conditions when jumping have occurred!
5. Don’t Bungee Jump in Inclement Weather
Any bungee company worth its salt should shut down operations in inclement weather such as rain, fog, strong winds, or snow. Those that don’t are just looking for a quick buck at your expense.
If your bungee jump wasn’t canceled, then do yourself a favor and cancel it. Even if you have to eat the money you spent because the company refuses to refund you, at least you’re safe and sound!
6. Wear the Right Clothing
Many bungee companies allow jumpers to wear what they’re comfortable in, within reason. You should not wear anything that can go flying, such as jewelry, glasses, sunglasses, or overly loose fabric like a dress or baggy shirt.
If your clothes are too baggy, then the staff at the bungee company might struggle to put you snugly in your harness.
7. Consent to the Weigh-In
Although no one enjoys being weighed, it’s a requirement before you go bungee jumping. The staff must ensure you meet the target range, so please agree.
Bungee jumping is not a sport without its risks, but the rates of injuries and fatalities over the decades has remained low.
You should always do your best to be cautious and safe when bungee jumping, but you needn’t let your head run away with all the worst-case scenarios. Most jumps go off without a hitch, and yours will likely be one of them.
Stay calm, listen to the instructor, and–above all else–have fun!