Do sky-divers breathe through their skin during free fall?

My wife, mother, and father were playing a board game called “Worst Case Scenario”, which asks what you should do in different dangerous situations.

My mother got the following one:

How To Breathe During A Freefall While Parachuting:

A. Take slow, deep, breaths.

B. Take quick, short, breaths.

C. You do not need to breath at all through your mouth or nose. You will breath through your skin.

The answer was C.

I have “researched” this through the internet, finding conflicting answers.

For example, Skydiving Magazine says yes, it does and even says the Discovery Channel backs them up…

However, Answerbag says no.

What’s the Straight Dope?

The Master says nuh-uh. (How the hell could you breathe through your skin, anyway?)

Nonsense. There’s absolutely no way to get usable oxygen into the blood through the skin. Why do you think we need lungs?

The article in Skydiving is very dismissive of the Discovery Channel’s findings, calling it “crap” – which it is.

This answer has come up several times and the answer is unequivocally, absolutely not. The idea is beyond stupid to begin with.

Skydivers free-fall at up to 120 mph but they have clothes and helmets on. Furthermore, there is no mechanism for a human to receive enough oxygen through the skin. Sjydivers breathe. Just ask them. They even yell to each other and to cameras. Doesn’t seem to be a problem there. Try yelling without breathing some time.

We have flamed the Discovery Channel over this. They should be shut down or renamed the Dis-Discovery Channel.

Oh good lord, who comes up with these ideas?

Former skydiver, several hundred jumps, checking in.

For the record, you breathe in freefall exactly as you are breathing right now, through your mouth and nose.

The Skydiving mag article does include the phrase “Nonetheless, we’re relieved the Discovery Channel–if that’s really where you heard this crap–finally let our secret out” which should tell you something about the tone of that answer. The other questions are answered in similar fashion.

You can also talk in freefall, although unless you are screaming with your mouth against somebody’s ear, you won’t be heard (“Point Break” to the contrary).

Why would you be able to breathe through your skin while skydiving when you obviously can’t do so on the ground? The whole concept makes no sense.

All I can think of is that someone believes that at high speeds air gets forced through the skin or some shit like that. But even if that were correct (it isn’t) why wouldn’t people also be able to breathe through their skin when standing on the back of a moving truck or just standing in a high wind?

Is there any factoid so stupid that nobody will believe it?

If a duck in free-fall quacks through its skin, will the quack echo?

Only if it swallowed 8 spiders in its sleep the previous year.

What were the creators thinking when they developed that question? Wouldn’t the “Worst Case Scenario” be something like your shoot not deploying, or maybe getting dropped above the oxygen level of the atmostphere? If that happened, maybe the answer is D, breath through your Solar Gills on the sides of your ears…

And shoot, what about your 'chute?

The mind reels…

If you cover a skydiver in gold paint, will they pass out?

Although it’s not quite on point, there’s never a bad time to point out that turtles do, in fact, breathe through their butts.

Uh, huh. Yeah.

(disclaimer: I enjoy The Discovery Channel and have learned a lot from them…but:)

This would be the same Discovery Channel that somehow equated a person hearing the call sign “Darkstar” while observing curious contrails to the existence of the “Aurora” hypersonic spy plane?

Enjoy the channel, it’s got a lot of great stuff, but be sure your BS meter is plugged in.