How to Survive a Fall From Extreme Heights When It Seems That You Have No Chance
What is the maximum height a person can plummet from and survive? Even a fall from the first floor can end up badly, nevermind one from 33,000 feet. However, Yugoslavian flight attendant Vesna Vulovic managed to survive a fall from this height after her plane blew up in the air as a result of a terrorist attack. She endured severe injuries, but later decided to return to aviation as a flight attendant again.
We decided to find out how you can increase your chances for survival when you fall and it seems like nothing can save you.
Bright Side found out information which is worth knowing just in case, though we hope that you’ll never need it in reality.
If you fall out of a window
- When you fall, try to cling to anything you can find. It’ll break your fall in a few intervals and decrease your speed a bit. And if there’s a canopy on your way, be it a plastic or glass one, it will help you to stop your fall.
- It might sound like a cruel joke, but try to relax your muscles while you’re falling, don’t tense them up. Drunk people and little kids are those who survive a fall most often. First of all, neither kids nor drunks realize what’s happening to the full extent. Secondly, alcohol switches off panic and relaxes muscles. As for babies, their bones are much softer than those of an adult, and their skull is more likely to deform, than to crack after hitting the ground.
Bend your knees (but not too much) and hold your legs together. This way both of your legs will touch the ground simultaneously, and the impact will be weaker. Additionally, try to land on the tips of your toes to absorb the force of the impact. You will most likely break your legs, but this is the lesser of two evils. Don’t do the following: don’t land on straight legs, don’t spread them apart, and don’t land on one leg thinking that you’ll save the other this way.
- While you’re falling, cover your head with your arms. At the moment your feet touch the concrete (in the worst case scenario) or the dirt (which is better), you’ll probably bounce a bit and then fall. So, try to fall on your side. Your arms around your head will protect it from the impact.
- If you survived, you are lucky. Now lie still, don’t move, and wait for help.
If you fall from an airplane
It will take you about 3-6 minutes to fall from the height of 33,000 feet, and the fall itself will have the speed of 120 miles per hour. Unfortunately, the chances of surviving are incredibly slim, but it’s still worth trying to save your life.
- First of all, keep in mind that people who managed to survive sat in the tail part of the plane.
- So, if something happens to your plane, like it explodes or starts falling into pieces right in the air: first, you’ll hear a deafening roar and feel blistering cold as it begins to fall. There’s very little oxygen at these heights, so you’ll probably pass out. However, when you descend to the lower layers of the atmosphere, you might regain consciousness.
Try to curl up in your seat or climb on some wreckage; this will increase your chances for survival. This is what Larisa Savitskaya, a woman from the USSR who stayed alive after falling from a height of 3 miles, said about the plane crash she became the victim of:
The wings of AN-24 were torn away along with the fuel tanks and the roof. I was sleeping at that moment. I remember a terrible blow and a burn; the temperature fell from 77 to minus 22 degrees F. There was a screaming and a howling of the wind. I was thrown into the aisle and found myself in the tail part of the plane. Suddenly I remembered one Italian movie, Miracles Still Happen. The main character of that movie saved herself in a plane crash by curling up in her seat. Somehow I got into a chair. I didn’t think I’d survive, I just wanted to die painlessly. There was a green flash and a blow. I landed in the forest falling on young trees, and that saved my life.
There are twice as few survivors after a solo free fall than those who were falling clinging to some wreckage. One of such people was a military pilot Alan Magee. In 1943, he fell from his aircraft that was flying at the height of 20,000 feet, and survived after crashing through the roof of a train station. If you happen to be in such a situation, remember this advice:
- Take the pose of a falling skydiver, spread your legs and arms. This way you’ll slow down your fall.
Try to direct your flight: to move backwards, bend your legs as if you want to touch your head with your heels. To move to the right, lower your right shoulder and bend your body to the right.
Try not to land on water even if you’re a good diver. When a person falls from an extreme height, the impact from hitting the water will be the same as colliding with concrete. Direct your fall toward a field, some plants, trees, or bushes. On the other hand, there’s a chance that you’ll be pierced with a stick or branch. The best alternative would be snow or a haystack.
- After you survive the landing, the most challenging part will start. You’ll have to stay alive and find people. 17-year-old Juliane Koepke managed to find her way out of the Amazon jungles after falling from the height of 10,000 feet. She had her collarbone broken, lots of minor wounds and abrasions, and only a pack of candy to eat. But eventually after 9 days of wandering, she found people.
Of course, except for this knowledge, you have to have luck on your side too. But since you’ve read this article, you can be sure that your chances for survival have significantly increased.
Illustrator Natalia Kulakova for BrightSide.me