Can You Pass Out While Skydiving?

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

When it comes to jumping out of a perfectly good airplane, your mind seems to wander with all sorts of ‘what ifs’. Don’t worry – we have an answer for just about every question you can think of. Skydiving, especially skydiving safely, is our passion and we’re usually one step ahead! The fear of passing out while skydiving is absolutely understandable. Let’s explore the possibilities of passing out while skydiving, how you can prevent it from happening, and what happens IF you or a skydiver passes out while skydiving.

Happy tandem student stick out tongue with stoke on airplane.

Is it Common to Pass Out While Skydiving?

While passing out while skydiving is, indeed, possible – it is exceedingly rare. Honestly, bad skydiving experiences in general are pretty rare. Even though passing out while skydiving is an infrequent occurrence, we want to reassure you that you are in good hands. Our meticulous safety measures, modern equipment, and experienced instructors all play a role in minimizing the risk of any incident.

Why Do Some People Pass Out When Skydiving?

While extremely rare, the cause for passing or fainting while skydiving is usually attributed to one of the following:

  1. Low Blood Sugar

Not giving your body the fuel it needs to handle the rush of adrenaline is a sure way to cause your body to shut down.

  1. Dehydration

Dehydration and excessive heat can increase the risk of fainting while skydiving.

  1. Hypoxia

Hypoxia, caused by a lack of oxygen, is one of the concerns as you reach higher altitudes. This usually only happens if you’re at altitudes above 15,000 feet for an extended amount of time. This is why the United States Parachute Association (USPA) requires supplemental oxygen for any jumps above 15,000 ft.

  1. Medical Condition

Certain pre-existing medical conditions may elevate the risk of passing out while skydiving. We encourage individuals with any concerning health conditions to consult with their healthcare providers before deciding to go skydiving.

  1. Extreme Fear and Anxiety

Extreme fear and anxiety can lead to vasovagal syncope, a sudden drop in heart rate and blood pressure causing you to faint. In these cases, your body overreacts to certain triggers (for example, a fear of heights) and basically shuts down.

Freedom Of Skydiving | WNY Skydiving

How to Prevent Passing Out While Skydiving

The good news is that passing out while skydiving is totally preventable in most cases. Here’s how YOU can play an important role in minimizing the likelihood of a skydiving pass-out:

  1. High Quality H2O

Dehydration can increase the risk of fainting while skydiving, so make sure you are well-hydrated before your jump. Avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol consumption, as these substances can lead to dehydration.

  1. Eat Foods That Make You Feel Good

Leaving your body malnourished while taking on the rush of adrenaline from your skydive is a sure way to have a bad skydiving experience and increase the risk of passing out. Eat a light and nutritious meal prior to your jump and skip the heavy, greasy foods that normally make you feel lethargic.

  1. Rest is Best

Get a good night’s rest before your jump and try not to overdo it on the day of your skydive. You’ll want your body to be relaxed and prepared to handle the stress and adrenaline spikes coming your way!

  1. Deep Breaths

Taking nice, controlled breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth not only has a way of keeping you calm, it prevents you from passing out! 

  1. Communicate Your Needs

We urge you to not be intimidated by your tandem instructor. If you have a health concern prior to the jump or are experiencing any symptoms while on your skydive, don’t hesitate to communicate! Your instructor is there to ensure your comfort and safety. Feeling queasy? Nervous? Tell your instructor! They have ways to adjust your experience to help you stay comfortable and still have a good time.

skydiver and skydiving instructor

What If You Pass Out While Skydiving?

Okay, now that we know it is uncommon to faint while skydiving, let’s talk about what happens if you pass out when skydiving. In the off-chance that you DO pass out while skydiving, we’ve got you covered. Skydivers, especially skydiving instructors, are not just adrenaline junkies – they are highly skilled and professionally trained to handle emergency situations should they arise. 

What happens if a skydiver (or instructor) passes out? As an extra precaution, each skydiving rig is equipped with an Automatic Activation Device (AAD). The AAD is a microprocessing computer no bigger than your finger that is secured within each parachute container system. Its job is to calculate altitude and speed by using the barometric pressure in the air. If the AAD detects that the skydiver is moving at faster than desirable speeds at unsafe altitudes, it will send a signal to automatically initiate the reserve parachute deployment. This is a great back-up tool if a skydiver (or tandem instructor) is unable to deploy the parachute themselves for any reason.

Passing out while skydiving is extremely rare, but it does happen. We hope you feel reassured that we’ve got your back either way! Have more questions or concerns? Contact one of our helpful team members at Western New York Skydiving. Blue skies!

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