How to Be Safe When Cliff Diving

Although the thrill of cliff diving is enough to give anyone goose bumps, it is an extremely dangerous adventure sport that should not be taken lightly. Every dive poses the threat of serious injury or even death; therefore every precaution should be taken, even by highly experienced divers. Perhaps the biggest misconception about cliff diving [...]

Although the thrill of cliff diving is enough to give anyone goose bumps, it is an extremely dangerous adventure sport that should not be taken lightly. Every dive poses the threat of serious injury or even death; therefore every precaution should be taken, even by highly experienced divers.

Perhaps the biggest misconception about cliff diving is that the diver is cushioned by the water below-this could not be further from the truth. When leaping from a cliff that is over 70 feet high, a diver hits the water at over 46 mph, regardless of his or her body weight. Such high speeds make the point of contact feel more like a brick wall than a bubble bath, so the diving technique becomes very important.

Professional divers are highly trained and well-prepared to handle advanced dives, including combinations of tucks, somersaults and twists. Amateurs, on the other hand, should never attempt such complex dives because a diver's body position at the time of impact is tremendously important to his or her safety. Botched dives have been known to cause some nasty bruises, not to mention dislocated shoulders, broken backs and even broken necks. Because of the high risk of injury, divers should always seriously evaluate their skills before trying any radical moves.

Although there is no truly safe way to jump off of a cliff, amateur divers are encouraged to pencil dive. A pencil dive requires the jumper to leap feet first off of the cliff, keep their arms at their side with their legs together and pointing downward. The idea behind the pencil dive is to keep the diver's body as tight and as vertical as possible. This position is considered to be safer because it limits the point of contact when the diver enters the water and puts less stress on bones and other body parts.

Wearing a wet suit while diving will help limit the sting associated with cliff diving. In fact, wet suits are strongly encouraged for first time divers at many tourist destinations, but professional divers suggest staying away from water shoes. Although wearing shoes might seem like a good idea, they actually amplify the force of impact because they increase the surface area of the diver at impact. The increased force of impact puts stress on a diver's body and can lead to broken bones or dislocations. Without a doubt, barefoot diving is the safer way to go.

Aside from taking the height, speed, water depth and body position into account, it is also important for divers to exercise good judgment when they are thinking about diving. Cliff diving tests both a person's physical and mental skills, so it is never a good idea to jump on a whim. A person needs to be of sound mind and in good physical condition to even be considering a dive, so one should never attempt a dive if they have been drinking alcohol. Furthermore, a person should never force someone to dive who is not feeling 100% confident in their abilities.

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