Which is more dangerous scuba diving or skydiving and what are the odds of dying scuba diving?
If you’re considering scuba diving or skydiving, you may be wondering which is safer. What are odds of dying with each of these sports?
The question: ‘Is scuba diving more dangerous than skydiving;’ the answer statistically speaking yes. Skydiving is statistically safer than scuba diving. The odds of dying scuba diving are nearly three times that of the odds of dying skydiving. But the odds of dying whilst driving in a car on the way to scuba dive or skydive are far worse. In fact you’re more than five times more likely to die in a car crash than you are scuba diving.
Which is safer, scuba diving or skydiving?
Let’s take a look at the safety record for both these sports in turn. Although this website is about scuba diving, let’s first take a look at skydiving safety.
How safe is skydiving?
Is skydiving totally safe? No it’s not, as there’s no such thing as a totally safe parachute jump.
The risk is very low these days, but there’s always some risk. Sport parachuting can never be entirely risk-free. But how dangerous is skydiving exactly?
The risk in parachute jumping is measured as injuries per 1,000 jumps. But for fatalities this is measured as fatalities per 100,000. Injuries can range from minor cuts and bruises through to fractures, sprains and internal injuries. The good news is that most injuries reported for skydivers are minor.
As reported on the British Parachute Associate (BPA) website, as per the link above, the injury rate is about 1 injury/1100 jumps. Interestingly the injuries vary by gender, with 1/900 for women and 1/1500 for men.
- Tandem jump skydive – The injury rate is about 1 injury/1100 jumps. The fatality rate since 1988 is about 0.14 per 100,000 jumps. This is equivalent to 1 fatality in 703,000 tandem jumps.
- Static line jump skydive – The novice rate is just under 5/1000 jumps or about 1 injury per 220 jumps. The fatality rate may be about 3/100,000 jumps or 1 fatality in 33,000.
- Experienced skydivers – Injury rate of 1/1000 jumps and a fatality rate of 5/100,000 jumps.
The BPA says: You want NO risk at all; If Skydiving is NOT for you Do NOT enrol on any type of parachute course.
How safe is scuba diving?
You are nearly three times more likely to die scuba diving than you are skydiving. That means you must follow safe diving practices to stay safe. You must always dive in buddy pairs and never go beyond your experience limits.
Let’s ask the same question: ‘Is scuba diving totally safe?’ No it’s not, as like with skydiving, things can and do go wrong.
There’s no such thing as a totally safe scuba dive. After all you’re breathing air from an aqualung in a foreign environment. You could have an equipment failure or you may make a mistake and run out of air.
Either way, if you run out of air, you have a problem when you’re underwater. However, if you follow safe diving practice, you’ll be scuba diving with a buddy. Plus your buddy will have an alternative air source for you to breath safely to the surface. Plus I will add, if you’re taught correctly and you check your air on a regular basis, you should never run out of air.
Additionally, you should always aim to be on the surface with your reserve air (50 Bar). You shouldn’t be leaving the bottom with just your reserved air left.
When I was researching this article to discover similar statistics for scuba diver fatalities to those for skydiving, I came across this great resource.
If you follow this link, which is about ‘Your Chances of Dying,’ by Best Health Degrees, you’ll see your chance of dying on many activities. And not just for scuba diving and skydiving (see below too).
You can also take a look at the NCBI website, which looks at the ‘DAN Annual Diving Report 2017 Edition: A Report on 2015 Diving Fatalities, Injuries, and Incidents.’
What are the odds of dying while scuba diving?
The odds on the above described website, where the information is demonstrated in a great graphic if you’re interested, is 1 in 34,400 die each year scuba diving.
In comparison, which is less than the average of the figures above from the British Parachute Association, they say 1 in 101,083 die skydiving.
So to answer the question of ‘Is scuba diving more dangerous than skydiving,’ it would appear that scuba diving is more dangerous than skydiving.
In fact, you’re nearly three times more likely to die scuba diving than skydiving based upon the statistics from the above article.
Putting the fatality statistics for scuba diving and skydiving in perspective
You’re over five times more likely to die in a car crash on your way to scuba diving than you are doing the dive itself. So in reality scuba diving is a safe sport when viewed in comparison to road travel fatalities.
As a comparison and looking at some of the other fatality rates for other sports on the ‘Your Chances of Dying‘ page linked-to above, you’ll see that canoeing is even more risky that scuba diving at 1 in 10,000 fatalities. Mountain hiking is 1 in 15,700 and hand gliding is 1 in 560, which are also more risky than scuba and skydiving.
But to put this all into perspective, the fatality rates using car transportation is 1 in 6,700. So driving a car is way more risky than scuba diving.
Driving is also way more risky than canoeing, mountain hiking and hand gliding also. That means you are more likely to get killed on the way to any of these sports than you will get killed doing them.
What’s the moral of the story with regards to the dangers of scuba diving vs skydiving
To conclude, the moral of this story (or of this article) you are much safer scuba diving underwater or jumping out of a plane than you are driving along a road.
If you make sure you train with a reputable organisation and practice safe scuba diving, plus safe skydiving for that matter, you are better to enjoy yourself and go for it.
But be very careful on the roads on your way to wherever and whatever recreational sport you do.
Finally ask the question ‘Should I take up skydiving or scuba diving?’
If you’ve read this article and your question is ‘Should I take up skydiving or scuba diving,’ I can’t really help you as far as skydiving is concerned, as it’s not something I’ve ever done. So although on paper scuba diving is more dangerous than skydiving, I can confirm that it’s a great recreational sport to enjoy.
Depending on whether you love wildlife, or perhaps you like the idea of scuba diving on a wreck or two, scuba diving appeals to a wide audience. There’s so much to explore in the oceans:
From the Great Barrier Reef, to the Rowley Shoals in Australia, then from diving amongst seals in the Farne Islands to the wrecks of Scapa Flow in the UK. Then there’s diving with tiger sharks of Tiger Beach Bahamas to swiming with the largest fish in the oceans the whale shark in many places around the world.
If you’re looking to begin scuba diving, take a look at some of the best places to scuba dive for beginners. You have so much choice and it’s a great sport to meet other like minded people.
So whilst there’s a higher probability of a fatality when scuba diving, this statistic is still very low.
Not wishing to leave skydiving out of this part of the article, this is another exciting sport. But I don’t profess to know enough about it to comment. But you can quite easily get yourself on to your first skydive at your local skydiving club.
I hope you enjoyed this article about is scuba diving more dangerous than skydiving
I’d love to hear from you. Tell us about your adventures of scuba diving or skydiving, in the comments below. Please also share your photos. Either from your underwater cameras or videos from your waterproof Gopro’s!
If this article hasn’t answered all of your questions. If you have more questions either about snorkeling or scuba diving (or specifically about is scuba diving more dangerous than skydiving), please comment below with your questions. Please don’t ask too many skydiving questions though!
There will also be many more articles about scuba diving (and snorkeling) for you to read and learn about these fabulous sports.
Have fun and be safe!