With recent news headlines such as the disappearance of the Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 and the more recent AirAsia crash, flying on budget airlines in the third world is not sounding so great. While plane crashes are very rare, surviving a plane crash can be difficult. That is why it is important to be prepared and plan ahead for the unexpected.
Airline accidents are very rare and flying is much safer than driving long distances. Traveling by plane can be nerve racking since you, the passenger have no control over the situation. With driving there is a false sense of comfort since you have control over the vehicle, opposed to flying where the pilot is locked in the cockpit. Even though the odds of ever being in a crash are very low, fatalities occur when people do not prepare themselves and do not act quickly enough when times call for it. While surviving the initial impact is out of your control your focus is on what you can do should you survive the initial impact. Here are some tips to give you the best possible chance of survival in a crash.
Dressing appropriately is important, long durable pants such as jeans as optimal along with a long sleeve shirt and sturdy closed toe shoes. It is wise to dress warm, because you never know how long you may be stuck out in the middle of nowhere, keeping a jacket or sweater on your lap may come in useful. Furthermore clothes that cover most of your body will reduce the chances of getting scrapes, cuts and burns. Wool and Cotton are preferable materials due to the fact that they insulate well and are less flammable than synthetics.
A few everyday items that can increase your chances of survival and pass through airport security are:
- 550 Paracord – 50 Feet
- Scissors with blades less than 4 inches
- First Aid Kit
- Small Flashlight or LED diode
- Protein Bars or other carb rich snacks
- Emergency Blanket
- Water Filter & Purification Tablets
- One book of Matches (non-strike anywhere)
- Extra socks & gloves
When booking your flight make sure to choose your seat wisely, an aisle seat close to an emergency exit is the best place to be. With an aisle seat you can spring to action and seek safety immediately after the crash has taken place. Contrary to popular belief the section of the plane does not factor into the survivability of the passenger since no crash is the same. Being trapped in a window seat is the worst place to be.
Listen to the preflight safety information. Most people try to tune it out since it is like a song on the radio you have heard a million times, however each airliner may be slightly different so it is important to pay attention to where the emergency exits are and take note of any other important safety features. Most people tend to be normalized to the flying process, knowing that it is safe and reliable transport. The normality bias is what often ends up holding people back in survival situations, the pure shock effect of the situation overpowers their ability to act on the spot and seek safety.
Wear your safety belt properly, it should be tightly tucked underneath your pelvis. The pelvic region is strong and able to handle force well. The tighter the belt the less G force you will be subject to in the crash. If it is on your stomach, the chances of injury are much higher.
If the cabin loses air pressure and the oxygen masks drop from above, waste no time and get your own on as soon as possible. Most people do not realize that you can lose consciousness within thirty seconds, this is why securing your own mask first before assisting anyone else is so important. You won’t be able to help anyone if you are unconscious.
Brace yourselves for landing, the flight crew will surely explain how to do so. If there is a seat in front of you it is best to place your head directly on it with a pillow or blanket in between to soften the blow. Your hands should be placed on the back of your head, to prevent whiplash. Alternatively if there is no seat in front of you then you should place your chest on the legs and let your head go down between your legs, the arms should wrap around the calves and and grip the ankles. With both positions it is important to keep your feet firmly planted on the floor and as far back as possible.
80% of aeronautical accidents occur in the first three minutes after take off and the last eight minutes before landing. These are the critical times to be aware of your surroundings and prepared for emergency. During these times make sure to have your shoes on, the seat belt tightly secured and a plan of action in case of trouble. Familiarize yourself with the layout of the plane and figure out where you must to go reach the emergency exit from your seat. If the emergency lighting does not work you must be able to navigate your way through the dark, with hysterical passengers and toxic smoke all around you. Make sure to have some article of clothing you can cover your nose and mouth with to prevent smoke inhalation, and make it wet if possible to increase its effectiveness.
The most important thing is to stay calm, and listen to direction. The flight crew is trained to deal with these emergency situations. As soon as the plane has landed it is important to get out as soon as possible. If fire or smoke is present it does not take long to move through the cabin, so you’ve only got about 90 seconds. Leave everything behind as it will only slow you down, and get at least 500 feet from the plane as soon as possible in case of an explosion.
In case of a water landing shed any excess clothing such as shoes and other heavy items that will reduce your floating capability. Put on your life jacket but do not inflate it until safely outside, if the water level rises within the cabin having an inflated life vest can hinder your ability to move around and escape successfully. Swim away from the plane and regroup with the other passengers and crew, stay together until help arrives.