7 Lifesaving Tips To Help You Survive A Fall From An Extreme Height

by Ileana Paules-Bronet
Ileana is a writer on the Original Content team. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.

When most of us imagine falling, we think about tripping on the sidewalk, slipping on a wet floor, or falling off a chair.

If we think about falls that are fatal, though, we typically imagine people falling off cliffs, slipping off the roof of a house, or having a parachute fail to open during a skydiving adventure.

If you’ve ever been on top of something really high — like the roof of a building or a cliff — you know it can be scary to just look off the edge. Falling from a great height is many people’s greatest fear, and for good reason!

But some people manage to survive these seemingly impossible falls, like the young woman who plummeted 10,000 feet into the Amazon rainforest.

In a truly extreme situation, a lot of it is just up to luck, but is there anything you can do to help save yourself in the event of a major tumble?

Almost everyone knows that they should try their best to avoid falling on their heads, but there’s more to it than just that. Keep reading to find out the best ways to keep yourself safe during a potentially fatal fall.

Thumbnail Photo: Facebook / Ileana Paules-Bronet

How To Survive A Fall From High Up

fatal fall
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

Falling from a height is terrifying and it can be lethal.

Still, some people manage to survive extreme falls, from skidding off the edge of a cliff, to tumbling from the roof of your house.

How do you even the odds in the event of a deadly fall?

Help protect yourself by following these tips.

Tip #1: Don't Panic

don't panic
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

Still, it’s important to remember that many falls from high up aren’t actually a straight drop down, but repeated collisions with obstacles in your way.

It sounds crazy, but you can use that to your advantage if you are able to keep a cool head.

When you fall off something high, the best thing you can do is try to keep your breathing even and your body under control, and look for a way to stop your fall or at least slow it.

On the flip side, panicking in a treacherous situation can lock up your muscles, and might also cause you to inadvertently tumble even farther or land badly.

Tip #2: Protect Your Head

protect your head
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

Next, protect your head. For many people, covering your head is second nature — you might do it without even thinking about it.

The best way to cover your head is to place your arms on the sides of your head, point your elbows forward, and lace your fingers behind or on top of your head.

Tip #3: Relax Your Body

relax your body
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

Many people think that the best way to fall is to fight the motion, but that’s actually not true.

When falling, it’s much safer to relax your body — the impact will injure you less if more of your body can take the hit.

To make sure that your body isn’t stiff, soften or even bend your your arms and legs when you fall — this will ensure that your joints aren’t locked.

Tip #4: Bend Your Knees

bend your knees
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

“If you feel yourself falling, experts said you should bend your elbows and knees to try to take the hit on the fleshiest parts of your body,” explains the New York Times, “like the side of your thigh, buttocks and shoulder.”

Meanwhile, if it looks like you’re going to land on your feet, keeping your knees bent will help absorb the impact of the fall — but don’t bend them too far, just bend them enough so they’re not locked.

Tip #5: Try To Land On Your Feet — But Don't Stay On Them

land on your feet
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

When most people fall, they try their best to land feet-first — it’s what feels most natural.

But as soon as your toes touch, try to roll so that your rear end and other fleshy areas absorb the most shock.

Make sure to keep your feet and legs together so that they hit the ground at the same time — and point your toes slightly downward so that you don’t land on your heels, before immediately pivoting to fall on the soft parts of your body.

Tip #6: Try To Fall To The Side

fall to the side
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

The New York Times reports that “falling straight forward or backward raises the risk of damaging your spine and vital organs.”

Many people try to fight the fall if they feel themselves going down, but it’s actually much better to go with the fall, and roll into it.

Falling to the side is a method employed both by paratroopers and martial artists, who are experts at falling.

Tip #7: Get Medical Help

get medical help
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

Finally, once you’re on the ground, get medical help.

You may think you’re completely fine, but often adrenaline cancels out your reaction to pain, making it so that you don’t realize you’ve actually hurt yourself. Plus, even if you don’t have any noticeable external injuries, you may have internal injuries that you can’t see.

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