average height of fatal fall

How Far Would You Have To Fall To Die

Around the globe, news of people that manage to keep their life after falling down from remarkable heights shows up every once in a while.  However, it’s common knowledge that even short drops of a few meters may prove fatal, depending on the circumstances. So all things considered, how far do you have to fall to die for certain?  What kinds of factors would determine whether people live or die in a free fall? Is it possible to increase the chance of survival while falling straight to the surface?  

You have many questions like the above in mind but unable to answer them properly? In the case, the following information shall satisfy your curiosity. 


A Study Of The Records

how far can you fall without dying
The result of an free fall depends on many factors!

Generally speaking, an awkward fall from 3 meters is all it takes to fracture your spine. Raise the height to 10 meters or so and you are looking at some serious injuries. But how far do you have to fall to die?

From a purely statistical viewpoint, people have about 50% chance of surviving a free fall from approximately 14.5 meters (equal to 4 stories). The mortality rate increases to 90% at 25.5 meters (equal to 7 stories) which often make it the average height of fatal fall. Of course, don’t count solely on the numbers because in reality, you have to take into account various variables, especially in outdoor activities (rock climbing, mountaineering, hiking,…). As a result, it’s of utmost importance that you refrain from putting yourself into a tough situation that necessitates free falling from tall places.

At all times, keep in mind that once you drop down from every height, there is always a risk of getting hurt during the landing.

What Contribute To The Results

In addition to the obvious height, there are a couple of influences that decide if you are going to walk away from a free fall. Some could be manipulated by humans while the rest prove nearly uncontrollable in most cases. So besides getting to know how far do you have to fall to die, it’s wise for you to learn about other relevant elements.

1. Body (Outfit, Posture And Alike)

In a free fall, air resistance plays a critical role in determining the falling velocity which correspondingly dictates your eventual odd of withering the fall. That is why your body would be among the most essential factors that create the difference between life and death. At first glance, the effect of outfit, posture, … seems minimal individually but in the grand scheme of things, they might be what keeps you alive. So once the time comes, let’s hope that your body is in the perfect state to endure a fall. 

2. Features On The Impact Ground 

Needless to say, it feels much better to land on soft snow instead of hard concrete after hitting the surface. Spots that have mushy properties tend to boosts your chance of survival in a fall. However, there are a lot of issues you have to worry about such as trees, structures, terrain and so on. Overall, friendly ground features should lessen the force of impact on your body while hostiles ones may end your life.  Because of that, it’s definitely a good idea to have a firm grasp of the surrounding at all times. 

3. Current Conditions Of The Atmosphere 

While falling down, you need all the help you could get including wind, air density, … Obviously, it’s impossible to correctly deduce the exact conditions of the atmosphere, especially if you are currently free falling. Hence, you have nothing to do aside from praying that everything works in your favor. On occasions, you just have to leave it to luck. 

Surviving A Free Fall: A Couple Of Tips And Tricks

how far can you fall without dying
There are steps to follow to survive from a free fall.

Technically, there is no such thing as a surefire way that guarantees your survival here. That being said, you should be able to increase your odds of getting through a fall by implementing some methods. First, always attempt to land on the side to protect vital organs of the body. Second, proceed to extend your limbs as far as possible in order to create drag. Third, if possible, aim toward things that might break your fall in a gentle manner. 

You can also learn these 2 best ways to survive from high fall on Wikihow: How to Survive a Long Fall

Incredible Stories From The Archive

Regardless of the subject, everyone loves to hear unbelievable tales.  So here are a couple of people that made it through nasty fall without losing their lives in the process.  

  • Vesna Vulović: a stewardess of Jat Airways, she survived a fall of 10,000 meters on January 26, 1972 when the plane she rode on was destroyed by explosives. Falling in a coma for 27 days, the Serbian stewardess finally woke up after suffering a broken skull, three broken vertebrae and an array of injuries.  With a permanently twisted spine, she had to limp for the rest of her life.  
  • Nicholas Alkemade: a rear gunner of the Royal Air Force, he was shot down along with his crew on 24 March 1944. As his parachute had already gone up in flames, Alkemade plunged down to the ground from a height of 5,500 meters. The only notable injury he receives was a sprained leg. 
  • Juliane Koepcke: a German Peruvian that work as a mammalogist, she made it through a 3,200-meter free fall while being strapped to her airplane seat. 

Last Updated on July 6, 2019

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  1. Free Faller August 1, 2023

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