A Moment of Science

How Safe Is Bungee Jumping?

Bunjee jumping, what a rush... but how safe is it?

A man bungee jumps

Photo: Mohammad Al-Rehaili (Flickr)

After studying bungee jumping, doctors have concluded that the short-term risks are minimal.

You’ve heard the hype about the thrill that is bungee jumping, and being a thrill seeker yourself you’ve thought, what the heck?

But after traveling to your nearest bungee jumping site and watching a woman dive into the air to later swing about at the end of a long elastic cord, you thought, how can this be safe?

Health Risks

Because bungee jumping is a relatively new sport, it is difficult to determine whether there are long-term health risks involved. Doctors who have studied bungee jumpers conclude that the short-term risks are minimal.

The most common complaint from jumpers immediately following their jump is dizziness. This annoyance typically wears off before the day is over. A few days after their jump, a small percentage of people experience musculoskeletal pains in their ankles or backs, but this pain usually disappears in a matter of days.

Another potential risk, though the occurrence is rare, is a temporary loss of sight thought to be caused by the shifting of fluids in the eyes.

Bungee Vs. Parachute

All in all, if the proper equipment is used in a correct and careful manner, bungee jumping is considered safer than sports like parachuting. The reason is that in parachuting the person hits the ground and is subjected to dangerous impact forces.

The elastic restraining cord used by bungee jumpers, however, gradually absorbs the gravitational forces on the jumper. In fact, in the few incidents in which jumpers have suffered severe or fatal injuries it was due to a failure of equipment.

Still, it’s wise to check with your doctor before seriously considering bungee for yourself. People with seizures, hypertension, or a host of other medical problems should not take part in the sport.

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