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Parachutes Do Not Save People Who Fall Out Of Airplanes: Study

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Parachutes in airplanes are supposed to increase passengers' odds of survival in case they need to jump out during an emergency.

Findings of a new study, however, show that jumping out of an airplane with a parachute is not always safer than jumping out without one.

23 Participants Jumped Out Of The Plane For The Study

In an experiment, Robert Yeh, from Harvard Medical School, and colleagues recruited 23 people to find out if parachutes are effective at preventing injuries and death in people falling out of an airplane.

Half of the participants jumped out of the planes with parachutes while the other half jumped out with just empty bags strapped to their back.

The findings showed that the parachutes made no difference in the odds of the participants of living or dying.

Safe Experiment

While the experiment may sound dangerous, the researchers did not actually make people jump out of a fast moving aircraft thousands of feet up in the air. No one would be foolish enough to participate in a study with such a dangerous setting.

The study only tested the effectiveness of parachutes on people falling just a few feet toward the ground from a plane that was not moving at all.

The researchers said the real reason why they did not find any change in the death rate is because no one died from the experiment. Who dies from just jumping out of a plane parked on the ground?

"Parachute use compared with a backpack control did not reduce death or major traumatic injury when used by participants jumping from aircraft in this first randomized evaluation of the intervention. This largely resulted from our ability to only recruit participants jumping from stationary aircraft on the ground," the researchers wrote in their study, which was published on Dec. 13.

The BMJ's Christmas Issue

The BMJ has an annual tradition of publishing light-hearted articles during the holidays through The BMJ's Christmas issue.

The study titled "Parachute use to prevent death and major trauma when jumping from aircraft: randomized controlled trial" is among those featured in this year's issue.

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