Other Stuff to Know - 3
Fortunately, few of us are ever going to experience a plane crash but serious accidents do happen. Many fliers wrongly believe that most plane crashes are fatal. Smart travelers know there is much you can do to improve your chances of survival in the event of a crash.
Always try to book an aisle seat in one of the emergency exit rows or within no more than five rows of one. Having an aisle seat will give you the ability to move faster if you have to exit the plane. On the other hand, sitting in an aisle seat is not necessarily safer than being in a middle or window seat.
Also, exercise caution in flying on airlines based in less developed countries. Safety standards vary considerably region by region in terms of the level of pilot and crew training, the type of routine aircraft maintenance performed, and the quality of airport operations. In some countries, there are minimal, if any, safety standards.
Wear clothes made from natural fibers, such as cotton, denim, leather and wool. Clothes made from synthetic materials, such as nylon and polyester, are much more flammable and are likely to melt on your skin at high temperatures, causing serious burn injuries.
Pants and long-sleeved shirts are preferable as the more of your body that is covered, the better. Also, wear low-heeled, closed-toe shoes. Avoid wearing sandals, panty hose and high-heeled shoes when you fly.
Refrain from having an excessive amount of alcoholic drinks prior to boarding and do not take any sleeping medications until about five minutes after takeoff. The most frequent accidents occur during takeoff so you need a have clear head during that time.
Always pay attention to the emergency safety briefing given by the cabin attendants prior to takeoff and read the safety instructions card in the seat pocket in front of you. Since there are many different types of aircraft and interior plane configurations, these can vary considerably.
Prior to takeoff, smart travelers briefly prepare a plan in their minds to follow in the event of an accident or crash. The most important thing to do in this regard is to look around the plane, count the number of rows between your row and the nearest two emergency exits in front and behind you, and determine how you can get to them quickly. In the event of a crash, the cabin interior can fill with smoke extremely quickly, making it difficult or impossible to see anything. This way, you will be able to make your way to an exit by using your hand to count the number of rows. You need to remember this information for two exit rows as the first one you come to may be blocked by fire or other passengers.
To help you remember the number of rows between where you are sitting and the nearest two emergency exit rows in front and behind you, write down this information on a card before takeoff and put it in your pocket. In an emergency situation, you may have trouble recalling this information.
When you are sitting anywhere in an emergency exit row, look at the emergency door and study the instructions on how to open it. If you have any questions about opening the door, discuss them with one of the cabin attendants. You are not permitted to sit in the emergency exit row if you are physically unable to open the door. When you have any doubts in this regard, prior to takeoff you should ask a flight attendant to transfer you to another seat.
Keep your seat belt snugly fastened all the time you are sitting down, even when the seat belt sign has been turned off. Planes can experience turbulence or a sudden large drop in elevation without any warning.
Two-thirds of plane accidents happen during takeoffs and landings. This means that, during the first three to four minutes of takeoff and the last eight to ten minutes of the flight, you have to stay particularly alert, keep your shoes on and not wear any earphones.
Whenever a plane loses oxygen pressure, an oxygen mask will fall down from a small overhead compartment above each passenger. When this happens, it is important that you put the mask over your own mouth and nose first before trying to help anyone else with their oxygen masks, including small children. Usually, you have to tug slightly on the air cord to start the flow of oxygen.
Place the elastic band behind your head to keep your mask firmly in place. Put masks on your seatmates even if they appear to be unconscious. Leave your mask on until the flight crew announces that it is safe to remove it. Information on how to use the oxygen mask is contained in the safety instructions card in the seat pocket in front of you.
Sometimes, there will be an in-flight announcement regarding an impending crash. In this event, follow the instructions given by the cabin crew, plus make these preparations unless you are instructed otherwise:
Your own behavior and decisiveness are the critical factor in surviving any plane crash. You have to size up the situation quickly and take the necessary action to exit the plane FAST without waiting passively to be told what to do. Sometimes the cabin crew will be able to give instructions and sometimes not.
Following any type of serious crash, passengers must evacuate the plane within about 90 seconds. After 100 to 120 seconds, there is a high risk of the cabin becoming engulfed in flames and toxic smoke. That is why you have to concentrate solely on exiting the plane as fast as you can move.
Here’s what you need to do as soon as the forward motion of the plane stops:
NEVER EVER LET YOURSELF GIVE UP! Keep going with everything you’ve got until you have exited the plane and are some distance away from it.
The above article contains my subjective recommendations based on a number of sources, including industry representatives and those articles cited below. Obviously, there is no guarantee regarding my advice as every accident is unique. In the event of a plane crash, if the cabin crew is able to give you emergency instructions, you should follow them. Otherwise, you need to use your own best judgment in determining how to respond given the circumstances you encounter.
Sources Include: “The Great Escape” by Barbara S. Peterson, Condé Nast Traveler, November 2005; “How To Escape Down an Airplane Slide” by Amanda Ripley, Time, January 23, 2008; “How To Survive a Plane Crash: Learn Ways To Increase Chances of Surviving Airplane Crashes” by Mia Carter, www.airplanes.suite101.com, January 17, 2009; “How To Survive a Plane Crash” by Milla Harrison, BBC News Magazine, October 3, 2006; “How To Survive a Plane Crash” (Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4): The Travel Insider; “What It Takes To Survive” by Ben Sherwood, Newsweek, February 2, 2009; and “What It Takes To Survive” by Ben Sherwood, the Sunday Times, June 14, 2009.
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