View Full Version : Falling safely

06-19-2007, 05:15 AM
How far can you fall, landing on your feet, crouching, whatever (a kinda controlled accident) onto sand (fairly hardpacked) without seriously hurting yourself? I have a character falling down a mine shaft - and being all-powerful-author, I can make the mine shaft as deep or not deep as necessary before its digging was abandoned. So how long a fall is safish?

06-19-2007, 05:42 AM
Well, when I was a kid we had a big jungle gym at a nearby park--a really big one, much bigger than you find these days--surrounded by fairly deep sand. We used to routinely jump from the top, probably a good 10 feet, until one kid broke his leg and they fixed it so we couldn't climb up to the top. So that's a good starting place: 10 feet is pretty safe unless you get unlucky.

Of course keep in mind I'm remembering this over many decades and the jump may not have been quite so high.

Plot Device
06-19-2007, 06:04 AM
We did an elaborate fire drill at my 2-story college dorm one year. The fire department staged several fake injuries, inclding one girl with a mocked-up shattered femur from jumping from the 2nd story window. They had the jagged edge of her broken femur (a fake of course) sticking out of her leg and through her clothing and blood everywhere.

Second story jump.

Plot Device
06-19-2007, 06:07 AM
I guess you just need to make the landing spot REALLY shock absorbent--lots of spring to it.

And why does your character have to land his feet? Can he land on his back? I believe Holywood stuntmen fall into their giant airbags on their backs and they land in such away as to radiate the impact force outward through their extended arms and legs.

Can he maybe land on his back on a really loose bed of sand? And can he leave a crater from his impact about a foot deep--indicating it was very loose and not terribly compacted?

Or is it plot-critical that he land on his feet? (Like maybe he's shooting a gun as he lands.)

06-19-2007, 06:35 AM
I think it would also depend on the person that is falling; someone elderly can't safely fall as far as someone in their teens, also, someone in so-so condition (a desk jockey) wouldn't be able to fall as far as an athlete in top physical condition.

06-19-2007, 06:41 AM
If you made the landing zone into a mound of sand, like a little dune, and he fell onto its side, then I think you could make the pit quite deep.

I remember dune diving in Martha's Vineyard when I was a kid and it seemed almost impossible to get hurt.

06-19-2007, 08:51 AM
Thank you all. I think I'll add some loose sand so that the character half slides down and lands on fairly soft sand with some give in it. I should be able to squeeze five metres out of that, shouldn't I? And it would matter if she didn't land on her feet - good point.

It's so great that there's a place where we can ask and have answered questions that ordinary life just doesn't need answers to.

06-19-2007, 08:53 AM
If you roll a little when you land it helps absorb the impact, and consequently you can fall a bigger distance without serious injury (assuming you roll right)... he could roll to his feet, if you absolutely wanted him to land on his feet.

06-19-2007, 09:02 AM
I think the feet landing is negotiable - but the roll is a good get out if needed. Thanks.