When you think about it, it seems extraordinary to put all your faith in a bit of strapping around your ankles and a long cord of elastic. Sure, there’s the safety harness too – but it’s what’s around the ankles that, psychologically, counts, and that seemed awfully flimsy and insubstantial.
Rope & Harness
The elastic rope first used in bungee jumping, and still used by many commercial operators, is a factory-produced braided shock cord. This consists of many latex strands enclosed in a tough outer cover. This gives a harder, sharper bounce. Other operators and most southern-hemisphere operators, use unbraided cords in which the latex strands are exposed. These give a softer, longer bounce, but make it look as though the elastic is old, weary, and about to snap! It isn’t so don’t panic!
Although there is a certain elegance in using only a simple ankle attachment, accidents in which participants became detached led many commercial operators to use a body harness, if only as a backup for the ankle attachment. Climbing equipment body harnesses rather than parachute equipment are generally used.
Despite the possible element of danger in jumping from a great height, several million successful jumps have taken place since 1980. This is because bungee operators rigorously conform to standards and guidelines governing jumps, such as double-checking calculations and fittings for every jump. As with any sport, injuries can still occur and there have been fatalities. A relatively common mistake in fatality cases is to use a cord that is too long. The cord should be substantially shorter than the height of the jumping platform to allow it room to stretch.
There are a variety of possible injuries during a jump. You can be injured if the safety harness fails, the cord elasticity is miscalculated, or the cord is not properly connected to the jump platform. In most cases, this is a result of human error in the form of mishandled harness preparation. Another major injury is if the jumper experiences cord entanglement with his/her own body. Other injuries include eye trauma, rope burn, uterine prolapse, dislocations, bruises, pinched fingers, and back injury. People under 40kg are not allowed to bungee jump with The Big Air Company because they are too light for the elastic which means the snap at the end of the stretch would be severe and that is when retina displacement can take place.
However, possible injury isn’t a great deterrent. The adrenaline kick from a bungee jump is so great that frequently people go back for more – and more and even more!