How to Survive a Plane Crash


What should you do to survive a plane crash?

aeroplaneWhen we imagine ourselves in the worst case scenario of a plane crash, most of us do not imagine it going very well. For many people the fear of flying might be better defined as the fear of crashing, at least for me that fits the bill. In preparing to write his article I did some research and I was not surprised to find that our chances of being involved in a plane crash are something like a 9 million to 1.

Would it surprise you to know that my research showed that records indicate there were 568 U.S. plane crashes between 1980 and 2000 and more than 90% of those involved survived? It sure surprised me based on the news reports we see on television. Thanks to pilots like Chesley (Sully) Sullenberger who successfully executed an emergency water landing of US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River off Manhattan, New York City, after the aircraft had been disabled by striking a flock of Canada geese during its initial climb out of La Guardia Airport on January 15, 2009. All of the 155 passengers and crew aboard the aircraft survived. [source: wikipedia]

None the less, it’s not something I want to find out for myself. But the question I pose today is, are you prepared if something does go wrong?

Before every flight we sit back and try to get comfortable as we greet our fellow passengers sitting next to us. After all we are going to be sharing the ride with complete strangers who we may need to rely on in an emergency situation, so its a good idea to at least say hello. As we do the flight attendant goes over the safety rules with us. They talk about the air masks, make sure those near the doors are physically ready to help, talk about the seat belt and how our seat cushion can also be used as a flotation device. But I wonder how many really pay attention like their life may depend on it? If you’re a frequent flyer you may want too start if you’re not doing so already.

Flight attendants go through hours of safety training and know what needs to be done to help you with any questions you may have. The old adage that you need to put your head between your legs and kiss your a** goodbye is not going to help. So what are the steps you need to take in a real air emergency?

Let’s keep in mind we are in a metal tube miles above the ground and most likely traveling at a very high rate of speed. There are no brakes that the pilot can hit to avoid a collision. However, there are some basic things you can do to prepare for the inevitable.

Does Clothing matter?
Let’s start with clothing pre-flight. What you wear on the plane can save your life. Yes that’s what I said, having comfortable clothing with proper footwear can make a difference when it’s time to exit the plane. In the confusion that is sure to come, high heels and open toed sandals are not going to help. As a matter of fact heels are not allowed on the escape slides that help passengers exit the plane. So what should you wear? tell us that loose clothing also poses a risk, as it can get snagged on obstacles in the close confines of a plane. If you know you’re going to be flying over cold areas, dress appropriately, and consider keeping a jacket on your lap. You’ll need to be able to stay warm if you survive the crash. Even if that is not a consideration, the more of your body is covered during impact, the less likely you are to receive serious injuries or burns. Cotton or wool clothing is also preferable as it is less flammable. Wool is preferable to cotton when flying over water, as wool does not lose its insulating properties to the degree cotton does when wet.

Does your seat selection have any impact on survival rates? shares that Popular Mechanics magazine did some exhaustive research that seems to point to the rear of the plane as the safest spot. They studied data of every U.S. commercial jet crash in the last 36 years and found that passengers in the rear of the plane are 40 percent more likely to survive than those in the first few rows [source: Popular Mechanics]. The Federal Aviation Administration’s position is that there is no safest seat. The FAA also concluded in a 2005 report that there’s no evidence that any one carrier is any safer than the next [source: FAA].

The 5 Row Rule
plane states Ben Sherman, the author of The Survivors Guide: The Secrets and Science That Could Save Your Life, research shows that passengers usually move an average of 5 rows before they can get off a burning aircraft. Sitting any further away than 5 rows from any exit row greatly reduces your chances of surviving. You can also slightly improve your chances by sitting at the back of the plane.

How quickly do you need to get out of the plane? points out that studies have shown that you have approximately 90 seconds to get out after the plane comes to a stop. Now that means you need to find the exit first, so make sure you know where they are beforehand. In the commotion and confusion, coupled with possible smoke and debris, looking for the exit at that point could be a game changer for you.

How important is your seat belt?
Do you immediately unbuckle when the seat belt light goes off? According to there is very good reason to keep your belt on at all times. In a car we know that buckling up saves lives. We wear it in case of a collision and never really worry that we’d hit a pothole or have a reason to worry about turbulence on the road correct?

But were are not moving at 300 mph right? Surviving the initial impact is going to be easier if you have your seat belt on. Crash survivors have attributed wearing their seat belt as a major reason they survived the initial impact. Another good reason to wear your belt at all times during the flight is turbulence. This can be a very frighting experience as you may know if you have ever experienced it before. Unforeseen circumstances can cause the plane to pitch, drop or bump without warning. Severe injury can happen for those not buckled during turbulence.

In the event of a plane crash seconds will matter. A calm and focused mind can make a huge difference as well both before and after a plane crash. gives us some images of the proper way to prepare yourself for impact from a plane crash as well as some other helpful advice. We hope you’ll never have to use this information but it is going to be important to you if you ever need it.

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