Follow these safety tips to be as prepared as you possibly can.
1. The jumpsuit you have to wear may not look stylish, but it’s there to protect you from cold air and wind. The jumpsuit should fit well – it shouldn’t be too big or too small – and there shouldn’t be any openings where air can get through.
2. If you’re going skydiving for the first time, the company you’re diving with will give you a harness. The harness keeps everything in place so that you can safely skydive. If you’re skydiving on your own, you should first have a harness that’s been custom-fitted to your body.
3. When you’re on a tandem jump, you have a professional with you who can pull the parachute cord in case you panic and forget. You should still know about the automatic activation device, though, which opens the parachute for you in case you remember when it’s too late.
4. Do you really have to wear a helmet? After all, if the parachute doesn’t open, you’re in trouble anyway. The helmet isn’t there to protect you in case the parachute doesn’t open (which is extremely rare), though. Instead, it’s there in case your landing doesn’t go as smoothly as you want. You could end up toppling over on your head, in which case you’ll be happy the helmet is there to protect you.
5. Don’t blindly trust your skydiving instructor who’s going to be jumping with you; ask to see his license first. Instructors have to meet certain qualifications to take other divers along with them. A quality instructor will have his license posted for everyone to see, but if you don’t notice it right away, ask about it before signing anything.
6. Eat before you jump. Otherwise, you could get lightheaded and pass out, which isn’t just unsafe, but it’s not fun, either. Why pay all that money to faint halfway down? Skip greasy food, though, which will just make you feel lethargic. Eat something light and healthy to keep you feeling tip-top.
7. There are few people who can look out of a plane they’re about to jump out of and not panic just a little bit. Before you lose it and ruin the experience for yourself, do some deep breathing. Breathe in for three seconds and then out for five to quickly calm yourself down. You don’t want to skydive when you’re having a panic attack – you won’t enjoy your time or be able to make sound decisions.
8. Before the jump, ask the instructor or the other divers what signals you want to use to communicate. You won’t be able to hear each other if you try talking during the jump, so you’ll have to rely on some type of sign language.
Jessica Fernandez is an experienced sports journalist, writing about her experiences of extreme and adventurous sports across the globe.