Bungee jumping is marketed to the public as a safe way for thrill-seekers and daredevils to get their adrenaline fix. But, you are only as safe as the bungee cord is strong, if the bungee cord fails – and they, unfortunately, do fail – you are likely to suffer a catastrophic injury or death.
Types of Bungee Jumping and Other Bungee Activities
Since its introduction to the public in the 1980s bungee has become increasingly popular. Further, the activity has been adapted to be appropriate for a variety of venues. Some forms of bungee activities include:
- Classic bungee jump – While this form of bungee jumping does not need an introduction, this form sees a participant jump from a tall structure while attached to an elastic bungee cord. Buildings, bridges, hot air balloons, helicopters, and cranes have all been used to perform bungee jumps.
- Reverse Bungee – Unlike a typical bungee jump which relies on gravity for its acceleration, reverse bungee or a bungee rocket utilizes the potential energy stored in a stretched bungee cord to launch the participant upward. This type of bungee activity can be performed in either a single cord or dual cord configuration
- Bungee-assisted trampoline — This activity allows the jumper to bounce higher on a trampoline than they would otherwise be able to unassisted. Bungees of this type are popular at malls and sports-entertainment complexes.
- Inflatable of fixed bungee attractions – Typically found at amusement parks, fairs and carnivals there are many variations of inflatable or fixed bungee activities. Some are tests of strength where two bungee runners compete to see how far they are able to run on a track. Another competitive bungee activity requires individuals to fight the resistance of the cord to grab colored balls from a central location and return them to a basket near where the cord attaches – the person who collects the most, wins. Another type of this attraction is similar to a zip line where the rider slides down a line while attached to a bungee cord.
Regardless of the form of bungee jumping or bungee activity and the number of assurances the operator may give you regarding the attraction’s safety, the potential for serious injury always exists.
Reasons for Bungee Accidents
In any thrill-seeking activity, the potential for catastrophic injury exists. Oftentimes, the participant can follow all instructions given by the operator but still end up with serious or catastrophic injuries through no fault of their own. Some common reasons for bungee failures include:
- Safety harness failure – Failure of a safety harness due to wear and tear, improper use, or selection of a harness not rated for the force of the jump or weight of the participant can have tragic consequences.
- Failure to secure cord – While it seems like it would be impossible to forget to attach the bungee cord, it, unfortunately, does occur. In other instances, the cord may have been improperly secured or the anchor was unable to sustain the forces involved.
- Miscalculations – While most of us think that bungee jumps happen as a matter of course, a physics student would likely realize that a successful jump is produced by a series of equations accounting for the weight of the participant and the tension of the cord, to name a few factors. When a miscalculation occurs the jumper may strike the ground with or without the cord snapping.
- Excessive bungee cord recoil – Because of the speed and forces involved in a bungee jump, even healthy adults can, and have, experienced vascular problems, eyesight loss, whiplash and other health problems.
- Cord entanglement – It isn’t always clear why a participant becomes entangled in a bungee cord, but when it happens the results are often tragic.
Regardless of the particular cause of a bungee accident, catastrophic injury or death can occur. Therefore it is always prudent to be cautious when considering any ride, event or attraction that combines high speeds, high g-forces and a tenuous safety system.