Something as small as a missed clip on your helmet or a distraction during the jump can cause major issues.
These small details can be big when they are missed. The 2014 Fatality Summary by Parachutist reports that issues like this, combined with malfunctions, not paying attention to chutes around you, and reserve issues can lead to death. Even experienced skydivers can be victim to these various issues, so it pays to be extra careful and prepared in case of these situations arising during your jump.
There are numerous issues that can arise if there are multiple canopies in the air during a skydiving experience. Fatalities in 2014 were caused by issues that included failing to check landing direction on opening, not paying attention to canopies around you, and being distracted at time of deployment of the main chute. In fact, of the 24 deaths reported in 2014 during jumps, 1/5 of those were related to collision issues. These can be avoided if proper care is taken to make sure you are on track for a safe landing.
Tips for safety related to collision include not jumping above another jumper, making sure to cut away from a tangle within the first few seconds of it occurring, and setting a hard deck of roughly 1,000 feet where you won’t cut away after that point. It is necessary to give the reserve chute time to deploy when cutting away from an entanglement or other issue with the main chute.
Deploying the parachute late can have a significant impact on your safety. This is shown in one of the deaths reported in 2014, when an experienced jumper deployed the chute late. Because it was not properly packed for deployment, the canopy released slowly. In turn, this caused spinning and line twists. The reserve chute could not deploy properly due to these issues, and a fatality occurred.
It is important to remember that reserve canopies are not guarantees of complete safety. They are built to be dependable. However, other factors can impact successful deployment and end with fatalities. For example, one death in 2014 resulted because the reserve canopy caught on the camera mount of the jumper, causing a failure to deploy. During the remainder of his fall, the jumper was attempting to clear the mount in order to allow proper deployment.
In the case of a horseshoe malfunction, which occurred in that situation, the deployed parachute gets caught on the jumper or other equipment, while the risers are attached to the harness. A loop of suspension line occurs and material from the twisted parachute flaps above the jumper. There are only a few seconds to react so it is better to make sure before leaving the ground that equipment such as a camera mount won’t interfere with deployment, or otherwise keep equipment optimized for successful use.
Failing to land safely and properly is related to a large number of fatalities in skydiving incidents throughout the years. In order to minimize the risk of injury or death upon landing, consider the following:
1. Offset turn problems by rising to counter the issue or using the other steering line.
2. Avoid using drugs or alcohol immediately prior to a jump, as this can impair the ability to judge distance from the ground.
3. Avoid dust devils whenever possible.
4. Tension knots occur in the free end of the brake line. In order to reduce the risk of these, make sure to untwist the tension in your brake lines between jumps and try to minimize twisting prior to the jump.
5. Make sure to start the turn with plenty of distance from the ground. Starting a turn too low increases the risk of hitting the ground at a high rate of speed and descent.
Even experienced skydivers can have issues in the air. It is important to stay clear and focused during a jump, and avoid situations that can lead to danger or even death. When you stay focused on what you are doing, prepare appropriately before a jump, make good judgment calls during the jump, and stay calm in emergencies, you can be sure your jumps will be successful.