There were 21 fatal skydiving accidents in the US in 2015, which equates to 0.006 fatalities in every 1,000 jumps, according to data from the United States Parachute Association (USPA). In scuba diving in the same year, there were 0.164 deaths per 1,000 dives, as stated in the Diving Medicine for Scuba Divers journal (2015). This means, statistically speaking, skydiving is safer than scuba diving.
That said, the safety (and perceived safety) of a sport is far more complex than statistics might suggest. For people taking part in skydiving or scuba diving, there are always inherent risks and many rewards.
Here, we explore a little more about the safety of both sports.
Much of the technological advances in the safety of skydiving is due to the military’s use of parachutes in the early 20th century. While risky jumps were considered the norm in the early days, the military invested heavily in improving safety levels, propelling the sport into a much safer realm than ever before.
Today, skydiving equipment includes a number of advanced backup systems to aid the skydiver. Aside from always jumping with two parachutes (a main and reserve), the development of a device called an AAD (automatic activation device) has saved thousands of lives. For example, in the event that a skydiver is unable to deploy their own parachute, the AAD will deploy the reserve parachute automatically.
Then, there’s the training that goes into learning to skydive. Each new skydiver is taught in a very regimented manner, where processes and sequences are essential. All of this has contributed to making skydiving the safest it’s ever been and transforming it from an extreme sport to mainstream.
Scuba Diving Safety
Scuba diving is a hugely popular sport which, like skydiving, has evolved a lot as it’s popularity has grown.
Like skydiving, an investment in equipment has helped to improve safety rates. For example, scuba divers today use dive computers instead of tables. These computers are used to calculate the time required between dives and the depth to which one can dive safely.
Managing Scuba Diving and Skydiving Safety Risks
The key in both sports is to understand the risk and to manage it appropriately. This means, for those in a position to move the sport forward, investments in technology and design are important. For those people who participate in the sport for the first time, an understanding that there are risks – and what the risks are – is essential.
When you jump with Wisconsin Skydiving Center, you’ll receive a full briefing during which we outline all of the potential risks, teach you about the equipment, and train you how to execute a safe skydive.