Consider this scenario: You’ve boarded a flight to go home for the holidays. Your family is anxiously awaiting your arrival. The plane takes off without a hitch, but somewhere along the way things take a turn for the worse. The engines fail and the plane makes an unpleasant stop on the ground. The pilots managed to land the best they can, but the fuselage was ruptured and flames are starting to engulf the plane. What can you do to survive?
Preparation is Key
The first thing you should do when you board a plane and take your seat is count. Memorize the number of seats between you and the nearest exit, and make sure you know which side of the plane the exit is on. Having this information will let you know exactly how far you must travel to escape should the plane fill with smoke and hinder your visibility.
In this scenario, the plane’s on fire and there’s smoke filling up the cabin. You’ll need to move quickly to the exit and get it open before you succumb to the smoke. Do not panic, as this will cloud your mind and you need all of your senses to get out alive. Focus on the task at hand. Stay close to the floor on your hands and knees. Follow the floor lights, counting the seats until you reach the exit. Cover your face with clothing to try and filter out smoke as you move; wet cloth will filter out more smoke so if you have water hand douse it to help you breathe easier.
If your clothes catch fire, remember the old adage — stop, drop and roll. This may be easier said than done if the plane around you is on fire. Your priority is to get out and away as fast as you can. If you are close to the exit, get out and extinguish the flames outside. Minor burns are better than respiratory failure and death from smoke inhalation.
Once you have escaped the plane, get away from it. Do not venture too far off though, as the plane will be found before you are if you wander away. Give the engines time to cool down, and spilled fuel time to burn off, before you think about going back to the plane for any reason. If you crashed in a secluded area, find some sort of shelter away from the plane. Once the fires have burnt out, and you are sure it’s safe, you may want to go back to look for supplies.
Here are a few more tips to think about which could increase the odds of survival in a plane crash:
- Wear long-sleeve shirts and pants to help minimize flash burns or radiant heat. Make sure the clothing is natural fiber, as synthetic materials can melt and bond with your skin.
- Purchase tickets for seats on the aisle near the middle or end of the plane.
- Keep vital survival gear on your person: Inhalers, medication, etc.
- Do not stop to grab your luggage while trying to escape the plane after it has crashed.
- Brace for impact, twice. Once when the plane hits and again when the nose hits. There may be more impacts as the plane skids to a halt.
- Practice taking your seatbelt off a few times to ensure you know how to get it off quickly.
In the event of a plane crash, many factors will be out of your control, so it’s important that you have a firm grasp of those you do have control over. Be ready, and get out alive.
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