Eight million of us takes to the skies every single day. With an annual total recently pushing past the three billion mark. In our lifetime we are each likely to spend an average of twelve days in the air. Even if the odds of a plane crash are one for every 1.2 million flights; around 30% of us still suffer from anxiety when it comes to flying.
Maybe that’s because, even if the odds of a plane crash are incredibly low, there have been over 23,000 crashes since the dawn of aviation. The last decade alone has seen a total of 1770 plane crashes, which resulted in over 11,000 fatalities.
Statistically speaking, planes are one of the safest ways of getting too far away destinations. Making the trip by bus, train, boat or car is more likely to end in a fatal accident.
If you’re one of the unlucky few to end up in a plane crash, here are our Top 10 Tips How to survive a plane crash!
1 – Don’t Stay Too Low To The Ground
We all should be familiar with the fact that hot air rises right? That’s why we know that when there’s a fire, we need to drop to our hands and knees and crawl low on the floor, minimizing the amount harmful smoke you inhale.
CAUTION: Whatever you do, do NOT try this technique when trying to escape a downed plane.
With so many people trying to get out through the narrow aisles, you crawling on the floor could cause significant injuries to yourself and become a tripping hazard for everyone else. Panicking passengers could easily trample over you and also have luggage fall on you.
What you should do instead is stay standing, cover your mouth and nose and keep your head down. If you do find the aisle blocked by luggage, debris or crawling individuals, it might be safer for you to climb over the back of the seats towards an exit.
2 – Wear Your Seat Belt
During takeoff, the flight attendant tells us to wear our seat belt when flying, unless we need to go to the bathroom if its safe to do so; but every year, approximately 58 people in the United States are injured during turbulence because they didn’t wear their seatbelts.
In May of 2017, a plane flying from Russia to Thailand hit intense turbulence and unfortunately, the seatbelt sign never light up. Some passengers ended up being thrown violently from their seats. Twenty people, including three babies, suffered significant injuries as a result.
Because of this occurrence, I’m surprised that it is still legal for parents with children under two to fly with the child sitting on their lap. The G-force in even a mild to moderate dive can multiply a child’s weight from 25 pounds to 140 pounds. With that difference in weight, it would be unlikely anyone would be able to hold on to their child if that were to happen.
One problem with the seat belts on planes is that because they operate differently than a car seat belt, they have been known to confuse some passengers. Reports from the National Transportation Safety Board show that some plane crash victims were still wearing their seatbelts when their bodies were found. It was discovered that they did not die from the initial fatal injuries but were left trapped and killed as a result of not being able to unbuckle themselves out of their seats.
Rather than this demonstrating that you should not wear your seatbelts, there is more evidence to show that wearing your seatbelt on a plane will increase your chances of survival.
3 – Dressing For Survival
I know I speak for myself when I say that when returning from a warm vacation in the Caribbean’s, I’m usually still wearing sandals and t-shirts. Of course, I do have a jacket in my carryon since I would be landing in a cold and snowy environment. I know I’m not the only one that does this but this kind of attire could have serious ramifications.
Safety Specialist from the Federal Aviation Administration, Cynthia Corbett advises that you should always make sure you’re wearing sensible shoes. If you need to run away from a burning plane, wearing sandals would make the situation much harder to overcome. Secondly, she recommends wearing long trousers and long-sleeve shirts, which would be much more efficient at protecting your skin from flames and weather conditions.
Considering that an NTSB report found 68% of fatalities in plane crashes happens as a result of post-crash fires. This kind of advice could be the difference between life and death.
4 – Negative Panic
Panicking during a plane crash is understandable, just like most of the significant crisis; screaming, shouting and running would be all things you would expect in this kind of disaster. There’s another kind of panic that sometimes gets overlooked, but could equally as deadly; it’s called negative panic.
Negative Panic is when major trauma renders immobilizes an individual. Despite the chaos and imminent danger around them, people remain seated, seemingly stunned and unable to react to the ordeal. The kind of panic can be dangerous.
During the 1977 Dutch KLM and Pan American World Airlines collision, 583 people lost their lives. Investigators suggested that negative panic could have played a significant role in the plane crash. Many passengers were alive, uninjured and mobile enough to have exited the plane before the explosion. The suggestion was that panic could have mentally paralyzed them. Even aircraft crew members with years of training and experience admitting of freezing up when the plane was in danger of crashing.
Apparently, there’s no easy solution to negative panic, other than its effects. If you see anyone around you who appears to be suffering from negative panic, do your best to render assistance and guide them to safety.
5 – Chose The Right Plane
You often don’t have the luxury of choosing which aircraft you will be flying in, but it’s still useful information if ever you do have the option.
Flying on certain types of planes will hugely increase your likelihood of survival in the in the case of a plane crash. One of the most important things to remember is that size does matter. Bigger planes = safer planes. That’s because bigger planes have better energy absorption, meaning that the force of the crash is absorbed more by the plane than your body.
National airlines are statistically safer than regional carriers. Regional carriers are involved in twice as many incidents as national airlines. One reason for that is that you need a more considerable amount of experience to have employment as a pilot on a domestic airline. This means that you’re more likely to be piloted by a new and inexperienced pilot on a regional plane.
The statistic shows that the safest plane is the Airbus 340, which, after a total of 18 million hours in the air, remains accident-free.
6 – The 90 Second Rule
Like we stated earlier, a lot of the times, it’s not the plane crash that kills everyone on board, it’s the flames that engulf the plane afterward. For that reason alone is the reason you need to get off the plane as quickly as possible. Fire can consume an entire plane in a matter of minutes.
It takes on average 90 seconds for a fire to burn through the planes aluminum fuselage. So remember that 90-second target and your chances of survival should increase substantially.
In 2013, Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crash-landed on the runway in South Korea. There were three fatalities in the crash, but three hundred and four passengers were able to escape before the flames engulfed the plane. Investigators credited the 99% survival rate to the rapid reactions of the crew and its passengers.
7 – Carry On Luggage
This fact relates back to the 90-second rule. Do not waste time collecting your carryon luggage. Like any other fires, the risk of this is obvious. While you try to retrieve your items, you’re blocking the aisles and stopping other passengers from getting off the plane safely.
In September of 2015, an unnoticed engine fault led to a British Airways plane bursting into flames on a Las Vegas runway. The 170 people on board had to be evacuated, and 14 people ended up in a hospital with critical injuries. Photos from the incident caused an uproar on social media, due to the vast number of passengers pictured clutching their belongings. The photos showed people holding purses, shoes and even sizable rolling suitcases, which people on social media described as “disgusting” and “selfish”. Some also called for those to be arrested. Thankfully, everyone that was hurt in the plane crash eventually recovered. The FAA, however, warns that the impact of these passengers actions could have been much, much worse and could also have prevented some of the injuries.
Airplanes are insured to help replace your belongings in the case of a disaster.
8 – Oxygen Mask
The dangers of a planes cabin losing pressure as high as five miles in the air instantly can be deadly. Even just a few seconds of oxygen deprivation can be enough to cause severe brain damage.
Passenger studies conducted by the FAA indicates that most people think that if an event leads to oxygen mask dropping from the ceiling, you could survive up to an hour before you would need to put it on. This argument is most certainly NOT a fact! If you’re on a plane and the mask drops, put it on immediately!
Even if the cabin pressure is still stable, you don’t know what problem has caused the mask to drop in the first place. There could be a risk of the plane destabilizing at any moment.
Passenger oxygen masks typically provide enough air to last between twelve and twenty minutes. That should give the pilot plenty of time to get to a safe altitude. When reaching the preferred height, the mask will no longer be needed.
The most important tip for number eight is that you need to secure your mask before helping others with theirs. You won’t be much help if you suffocate and lose consciousness.
9 – Where You Sit
You would hope that every passenger has an equal chance of survival during a plane crash. Sadly, that’s not the case. Where you sit on the plane dramatically affects your chances of survival.
In the past, people used to think that the seats over the wing were the safest on the aircraft. The idea was that the most durable and most stable part of a plane was in the location of the wings. Some studies have disputed this claims.
In 2007 Popular Mechanics analyzed all crashes after 1972 to see how the fatality rates differed based on where passengers were seated. They found out that the passengers sitting in the rear of the plane were most likely to survive with a 60% survival rate. 56% of passengers who are seated over the wing of the aircraft compared to 49% of passengers in the front.
That’s just how seating affects your chances of surviving the initial impact. It’s important to be sitting in the right place to escape the plane alive.
A University of Greenwich study looked into the accounts of 2000 survivors from 105 airline accidents from around the globe. They found that those who are sitting within six rows from an exit were much more likely to escape the plane crash and survive. They also found that those who are sitting in an aisle seat were more likely to escape quicker, although the difference was only marginal compared to a window seat.
10 – Brace Position
Google “Brace position” and you’ll be flooded with results around the idea that it’s designed to either kill you or at the very least, preserve the passenger’s teeth and make it easier to use dental records to identify bodies.
So why has the brace Position conspiracy become such a theory? And how is it supposed to work? It’s proposed that in the event of a crash, the brace position is designed to kill you by breaking your back and neck on impact with the seat in front of you.
Why would the airlines want to do this? The reason for a quick death is because it’s cheaper for airlines to pay out for a wrongful death lawsuit than pay for long-term medical cost on top of a class action lawsuit.
Now, unfortunately, this is where fact does come into play. It is cheaper for an airline to let you die by wrongful death rather than help you survive a plane crash and pay you compensation. The cost for a wrongful death lawsuit is shocking at 3 to 40 million dollars less than the average disability payout. There are no confirmed cases that airlines has ever capitalized on this, but history has shown that significant business has chosen financial benefit over customer safety in the past.
Ford Pinto Controversy
Let us take you back to the 1970’s with the Ford Pinto controversy. The Ford Pinto had a severe fault, and the manufacturers weighed up the cost of modifying its design to make them safer. It was estimated that the subsequent product recall changes would cost 113 million dollars. On the other hand, potential damage payout if accidents occurred due to its faulty design, was calculated at 43 million dollars.
Amazingly, Ford opted NOT to make their cars safer because of the high cost. This decision resulted in between 27 and 180 deaths. So now we know that financial gain can be the preferred option for big business. But before we go any further, let’s look at the science behind the brace position itself to see what evidence there is to prove if it works.
Brace Position In The Kegworth Air Disaster
Officially designed to protect passengers and offer them the best chances of survival during a plane crash, the brace position as we currently know it, was introduced after the Kegworth Air Disaster in 1989. The Kegworth Air Disaster was a plane crash involving 118 passengers. There were 47 fatalities, and of the 79 survivors, 74 had severe injuries. An investigation into this plane crash revealed that the recommended brace position at the time might have led to some of the injuries the passengers suffered during the accident.
The traditional brace position, for those in economy class, caused the passenger’s legs, arms, and torso to flail around after the initial impact, causing multiple fractures. After the Kegworth Disaster, the brace position was updated, and the FAA released new instruction in 1994.
New Brace Position Version
This new brace position version, the one you may currently recognize, advises passengers to position their heads and arms on the seat or bulkhead in front of them, and the passenger’s feet should be placed flat on the floor and slightly in front of the edge of the seat. This aimed to make it more effective at saving lives and reducing injuries, by minimizing the movement your body will endure during and after the initial impact of the plane crash. Since then there have been multiple accounts where the brace position has been credited for saving passengers lives and minimizing their injuries.
The most recent example comes from the 2012 Boeing 727 Crash experiment that saw a dummy-filled plane deliberately crashed into a Mexican desert. The crash test dummies were sitting in three different positions.
- 1 – Brace Position with the seat belt fastened. This passenger would have indeed survived!
- 2 – With just the seat belt fastened. These passengers would have survived; however, they would have suffered significant injuries.
- 3 – Without a seatbelt and also not in the brace position. The results found that these passengers would have certainly perished in the plane crash.
It has recently been de, demonstrated in the 2009 Hudson River plane crash. There was a 100% survival rate, as well as due to the heroics of Captain Sullenberger, the lack of fatalities has also been attributed to the use of the brace position.
An even a better example from the flight safety foundation; a plane crash where all passengers were either sleeping or reading; they had no warning of the impending impact, except one sixteen years old woke up. He looked outside and saw they were about to crash and adopted the brace position. He was the sole survivor of that plane crash.
Brace Position Statistics
There is evidence of numerous other cases that back up the positive uses of the brace position. If you’re still not convinced, the stats speak for themselves.
A study looking at commercial aviation between 1983 and 2000 showed there was 568 plane crashes in the United States alone. These plane crashes involve a total of 53487 people on board, and 51207 people survived. That’s over 95%. If the brace position were designed to kill off passengers, then that survival rate would be significantly lower. If you want to be among that 95%, it is probably in your best interest to learn and adopt the brace position.
Proper Brace Position
Each airline and safety organization has a slight variance on the brace position. Remember these three basic rules.
- Lean forward and get your torso as low as low as possible. In economy or coach, ensure your forearms and head are touching the seat in front of you. Make sure your seatbelt is secure. This will prevent your body from jackknifing forward and striking the seat in front. Not wearing your seatbeltew4GRhtjyk lo.t or your body from flailing around and colliding with other parts of the plane.
- Protect Your Hear. Place your hands behind your head without interlocking fingers. Ensure your forearms protects each side of your face. In the Kegworth plane crash, many passengers were killed by luggage that fell on them from overhead compartments.
- Place any loose luggage under the seat in front of you and have your feet flat firmly on the floor. This position will prevent your legs from jolting forward into the base of the seat in front and breaking your legs.
This test showed that those passengers with seatbelts fastened and placed in the brace position would have been the most likely to survive the crash.
Let’s all hope that none of us ever have to use these tips but at least knowing them will give you a better chance of surviving a plane crash. Please comment and share to your social media!