Filed in Safety

There has been a lot of attention recently on the story of Aimee Copeland, a 24-year-old Georgia student who has been attacked by Necrotizing Fasciitis, a rare flesh-eating disease. The disease infects the deeper layers of the skin and is caused by a bacterial infection that typically enters through an open wound. In the case of Aimee Copeland, the wound was caused by a ZipLine accident. Aimee was above a river on a homemade zip line when the line snapped and she fell. The resulting accident left a gash in Aimee’s left calf muscle, and bacteria that was in the water of the river entered her open wound. The bacteria progressed, and doctors were recently forced to amputate Aimee’s leg.

Aimee’s story is a horrible example of how fragile life can be. Aimee was only one semester away from earning her master’s degree in Psychology when the accident happened. After such a horrible tragedy I think it’s a good time to examine the safety record of zip lines. Are ziplines safe? With tens of thousands of ziplines installed as tourist attractions all over the world, is there a way you can check to make sure that you won’t have a similar type of accident?

Are Zip Lines Safe?

There have been several high-profile news stories over the past several years dealing with deaths caused by zip line failure. Like the story  from Maui in 2011 of a man who died after falling 200 feet while testing a zip line, the story of the U.S. tourist who fell 65 feet and died in Honduras in 2008, the 11 year-old boy who died in England, or the story of the 23 year old man in Texas who  fell after the cable malfunctioned.

These stories, along with the story of Aimee Copeland, are all tragic and very sad. While there are even more stories of zip line accidents than the ones linked here, accidents by zip line are statistically very rare when compared to other types of accidents. Certain other types of sports, such as Football, Basketball, etc. have a higher probability of being injured statistically, and the primary cause of injury while riding on a zip line are heart attacks. The majority of  other types of accidents or death caused by zip lines occur when the zip lines are homemade, such as was the case with Aimee Copeland, or when the zipline has not been properly maintained. For the most part around the world, there is no government regulation on zip line companies. That means there are no regular inspections or mandatory maintenance required on zip lines, and the individual companies are responsible for customer safety.

What Precautions Can You Take and How Can You Tell if Your Zip Line is Safe?

People do get hurt on zip lines! If you are planning to try a zip line, you should seek out a professional zip line company. Never ride on a homemade zip line! Make sure that:

  • The zip line company provides an experienced operator, someone who has been doing it long enough to give you necessary training to keep you safe during the ride.
  • You wear all of the necessary safety gear, which probably includes a helmet, harness, gloves, goggles, pads, and more.
  • The company has maintained their zip line and has records that can prove that they perform regular maintenance to inspect the integrity of the lines.
  • Take a quick look at this comprehensive checklist of safety precautions the zip line company should be following, including a checklist of questions you should ask.
  • You never ride a zip line in poor weather or in a place where you don’t fully trust the safety record of the zip line company and staff!
Zip Lines can be a lot of fun when good safety policies are followed… If you aren’t familiar with what a Zip Line is like, watch this video:


Posted By   @    15 May 2012
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Sep 24, 2013
1:24 am
#1 John Thee :

with thousands of ziplines worldwide and millions of riders the safety record for ziplines is incredible!~

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