Dan BC’s Safety Thoughts for the year…
Over the last three years skydiving fatalities in the US have been at record lows. Overall across the globe we’re doing a better job with safety, thank you everyone! But losing or injuring any of us is too many.
Like so many others who are regularly promoting safety it makes me (and I’m sure everyone around me) crazy when I’m constantly repeating myself with the same old safety advice. But there’s really not much new to add. It’s all about trying to drive the basic safety ideas we already know into our thick skulls. And as a group, we skydivers have some pretty thick skulls.
A safe skydiver VS a safe skydive
There is one idea which I haven’t actually shared before that has helped me to stay safe in the air for the last 25 years of my skydiving career. I’ve always considered myself a ‘safe skydiver’. But I’ve seen so many safe skydivers get hurt or worse far too many times. It occurred to me that there is no such thing as a safe skydiver, there is only a safe skydive. It doesn’t matter how experienced and safety conscious we think we are. It only matters how safety conscious we’re going to be on the jump we’re making right now.
Safety and Family
After my wife Kristi and I had kids my outlook on safety changed completely. Simply being a safe skydiver wasn’t enough anymore. I was making about 1,500 jumps a year at that time. Every morning when I’d leave for the drop zone I’d promise my kids that their Dad would be coming home that night. I guaranteed them I would land safely from each skydive I made and I was determined to live up to that promise. It wasn’t about me. It was about taking care of their Dad and I meant it. If I didn’t think I could guarantee my safety I would have stopped skydiving.
I re-examined every part of my safety preparation and discovered it was far from ideal. Though my safety plan, and a huge dose of good luck, had gotten me by for my first 10,000 jumps it was clear that there was so much more I should be doing if I was going to guarantee my family I’d land safe from every jump.
I immediately started paying much more attention to each detail of my safety procedures, processes and attitude. Before and during every jump I thought about what I had to do next to guarantee I’d land safely. This included my choice of equipment, canopy, which jumps to get on, what weather to jump in, doing gear checks and handle checks, better altitude awareness, dramatically increased freefall and canopy awareness, not just knowing my EPs but being really good at them, making the decision to cut away immediately if I wasn’t 100% sure I had a good canopy, expecting everything that could go wrong to go wrong every jump, deciding where to land and the pattern to fly while still at a high altitude, sliding in or doing a PLF if I didn’t think I could easily stand up the landing, making sure the group exiting after me knows how long to wait before exiting… everything. Since then I’ve not only been a safe skydiver. I’m a skydiver who consciously, step by step, makes sure I land safely on every jump I make. I have to be, I made a promise.
You may wonder how I could make a promise like that when my safety may not always be under my control. It’s possible someone else could take me out. Well, that is true, but in my experience I’ve found that 99.9% of the time by anticipating unsafe situations, having prepared for them, being on our toes and staying extra aware and extra sharp, we will have the information we need in enough time to avoid skydivers who are paying less attention and could endanger us.
I realize there are those very rare situations like running into extreme turbulence we can’t see and can do nothing about, but they are few. We could also get hit by lightning. We take those kinds of risks getting out of bed every morning.
I have an idea for 2020. On every jump let’s all promise ourselves, our families and our skydiving friends that we are going to land safely on every jump. We can do this, I know we can! Think of the last jump you made. Had you chose to, don’t you think before the jump you could’ve guaranteed you would make all the right decisions necessary to land safely? Think of all the people we know who got hurt turning too low after trying to make it back to the landing area. Had they promised themselves to land safely rather than to land close they would have walked away uninjured. It’s nearly always some dumb-ass decision or lack of preparation and attention that injures us. Can’t we promise to prepare, pay attention and not make dumb-ass decisions?
So here it is. I understand this is a pretty bold statement but I’m making it. I promise you that in 2020 I will land safely from every jump I make. I will not get hurt skydiving or do anything that causes another jumper to get hurt. I personally guarantee it. I’m going to make this promise one jump at a time, on every jump. I’ve made this promise to my family for my last 20,000 skydives and haven’t broken it yet. I’m also extra motivated because after constantly writing and speaking about safety, the amount of crap I’ll get from everyone if I hurt myself would be more than I can take.
Make the same promise?
Anyone care to join me? If you do please make the same promise… and Share this post.
Wishing you and yours a fabulous, fun, exciting, loving and safe 2020!!
You can find more articles written by Dan on his website www.danbrodsky-chenfeld.com.
- Be CALM! - 4th August 2022
- Let’s Talk About FEAR - 18th January 2022
- Take Charge! - 16th August 2021
- P3 Power Play 2021 - 15th July 2021
- One Big Family - 10th June 2021
- Let’s talk Canopy COLLISIONS - 18th May 2021
- Safety Culture - 29th April 2021
- P3 Winter Fling - 6th March 2021
Please check out my book 'Above All Else' here