If you find yourself going into a freefall inside a metal tube hurtling through the clouds at hundreds of kilometers per hour, and an oxygen mask drops down right in front of you – try not to panic.
Airplane crashes are highly survivable. And here’s what you can do to increase your chances of survival, according to science.
Taking a flight on a commercial airplane is about as risky as riding an escalator. The odds of being killed in a plane crash are 1 in 11 million.
You’re more likely to drown in a bubble bath, choke on your breakfast, or die in a car accident on your way to the airport. Yet, we can all feel a little nervous when stepping on a plane.
What do you do with this yellow mask if it suddenly drops from the ceiling? Where do you run to in an emergency evacuation? And where is the safest place on the plane?
Here are 6 things you can do to survive a plane crash.
1 – Dress appropriately
Your flip-flops may be comfy, but they’re not going to perform well in case of an emergency. And neither will your high-heeled shoes.
The National Transportation Safety Board reports that 68% of passengers in plane accidents die from injuries in post-crash fires.
So go for long pants and long-sleeved shirts – they’ll protect you from flames and sharp objects. And put on lace-up shoes, in case you need to run.
2 – Choose safer seats
Where is the safest place to sit, anyway? According to an analysis of airplane crashes by Popular Mechanics, your best bet is to sit as far back in the airplane as possible. Passengers near the tail of a plane have a survival rate of 69% in a crash, while the survival rate in business class is only 49%.
Maybe you’re doing the right thing by not overpaying for cheap champagne and extra leg room. Unless the plane goes down tail-first.
See, there is no such thing as the safest seat on a plane. It all really depends on the situation. Regardless of what section you’re sitting in, know where the emergency exits are. When you get on the plane, count the rows to the closest one so that you can find it even if the cabin is filled with smoke.
3 – Know when to stay alert
The first three minutes after takeoff and the eight minutes before landing are the most accident-prone times of the entire flight. Make sure to keep your shoes on, your seatbelt fastened and your tray table up.
Put your carry-on items under the seat in front of you. That way it will keep your legs from going under the seat and getting broken.
And pay attention to the emergency instructions, even if you’ve been on a plane many times before – not all planes are the same.
4 – Keep calm
The first 90 seconds of a plane crash are the most important. Many people get so nervous they forget how to unbuckle their seatbelt.
Listen carefully to the instructions. But don’t just sit through the disaster waiting for orders if they are not coming.
The first thing you should do is to prepare for impact. If there’s a seat in front of you, cross your hands on the seat back and put your head on your hands. If there’s no seat in front of you, bend over, grab your legs behind your knees and keep your head down.
In the worst-case scenario, the cabin will experience sudden pressure loss and oxygen deficiency. You’ll only have about 10 seconds before you go unconscious. So if you see the oxygen masks drop down, put one on yourself first.
Only then should you try to help someone else.
5. Leave your baggage behind
If you get to evacuate from the plane, do it as quickly as possible. Don’t try to get your carry-on to take with you – you might end up stuck with it on a burning plane.
If you’re carrying something that’s too important to lose, stick it in your pocket to keep your arms free.
6. Get away from the plane
If your plane hits the ground, there’s a high chance of it exploding. Run — at least 150 meters (500 feet) away from it in the direction against the wind and wait for the rescuers to find you.
It’s good to be prepared for anything. But don’t be afraid of flying. In the history of aviation, it’s never been a safer time to fly. Commercial aviation averages less than 500 fatalities per year worldwide.
Among planes that do get into accidents, over 95% of the passengers get out of them alive. Personally, I try to think of turbulence like bumps on the road. Helps with my flying anxiety. That’s a little tip from me to you.
- “Survivability of Accidents” 2019. ntsb.gov. Accessed February 22 2019.
- “How To Survive A Plane Crash”. Hitti, Mirranda, 2019. Webmd. Accessed February 22 2019.
- “How To Survive A Plane Crash”. Mark Lallanilla, LiveScience. 2013. Scientific American. Accessed February 22 2019.
- “What Is The Safest Seat On A Plane?”. Nolan, David, 2007. Popular Mechanics. Accessed February 22 2019.
- “Surviving A Plane Crash: Where You Sit Could Be The Difference Between Life And Death”. Shaw, Alexis, 2017. ABC News. Accessed February 22 2019.
- “How Do People Survive Plane Crashes?”. Austin Jesse Mitchell, 2017. curiosity.com. Accessed February 22 2019.
- “Surviving A Plane Crash: Where You Sit Could Be The Difference Between Life And Death”. 2019. ABC News. Accessed February 22 2019.
- ” How To Survive An Air Crash. Surviving A Plane Crash, Free Article By Survival Expert James Mandeville “. 2019. survival-expert.com. Accessed February 22 2019.
- “The Plane Crash – Full Documentary”. 2019. Youtube. Accessed February 22 2019.
- “The Odds Are 11 Million To 1 That You’ll Die In A Plane Crash”. 2013. theweek.com. Accessed February 22 2019.