9 Tips For Surviving a Plane Crash

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Reports of tragic aeroplane disasters have been all over the news lately, from the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine to the crash of Air Algerie flight 5017 in northern Mali. Vivid images of the crash sights and all the media attention have us all thinking that plane crashes are catastrophic unsurvivable events. Fortunately, that isn't always the case. A study conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board revealed that the chances of surviving a plane crash are considerably high even when fire and extensive damage occurs.

Nevertheless, the study also showed that nearly half of the fatalities that occurred happened in plane crashes that were survivable. The fatalities might have been prevented if only the passengers knew how to act in such emergency situations. So here are 9 tips to help you survive a plane crash.

  1. Get out of the plane in as fast as you can.

It takes only an average of 90 seconds for a fire to burn through the fuselage and set everything and everyone ablaze. It's usually not the actual impact that kills passengers but the fire that engulfs it after. Most passengers may be amazed that they survived that impact that they become complacent of the present danger they're in. Understanding this is a key factor in determining a person's survival in a plane crash.

  1. Choose bigger planes when flying

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, larger planes can absorb more energy in the event of a crash. This means a higher survival rate for passengers as much of the force is absorbed by the aeroplane.

  1. Choose a seat near the exit.

Try to find a seat near the exit. Research shows that people who survive a plane crash typically only had to move five rows to get to the exit. The chance for survival decreases as you go further away the exit.

If it's not possible to sit in the exit row, try to get a seat in the aisle. You have a better chance of survival sitting in the aisle than in a window seat.

  1. Take immediate action. Keep an action plan for emergencies.

Remember that you only have a little over a minute to get out of the plane. Don't mill around and act complacent of the danger.

Plan your action for emergency evacuation every time you board a plane. Know where the exits are, then count the number of rows between you and the nearest exit. This way you can still find your way should the aeroplane crashes at nighttime or when the interior lights fail.

  1. Don't ignore the emergency cards and the flight attendant's safety spiel.

Read through the safety card and listen to the flight attendant's pre-flight safety spiel even if you've flown a thousand times. RE-reading the safety cards will remind you of what to do in a crash and will help you formulate your action plan.

  1. Keep in mind the plus 3-minus 8 rule.

The plus 3-minus 8 refers to "the first 3 minutes after takeoff and the last 8 minutes before landing." Almost 80% of all plane crashes take place in this timeframe and the chances of a plane crash in between those time decreases. Therefore, it's important to be on your guard during the first 3 minutes after takeoff and the last 8 minutes before landing.

  1. Keep your mental faculties by putting on the oxygen mask as soon as it's dropped.

You only have a few seconds before your brain is deprived of the oxygen it needs to maintain its faculties intact when a cabin loses pressure. In order to avoid any mental impairment and increase your survival, wear the oxygen mask as soon as it is dropped.

  1. Fasten your seatbelt securely.

Make sure to fasten your seatbelt low and tight over your lap. Seatbelts are made to withstand 3,000 pounds of force. This is about three times the amount your body could withstand.

  1. Take on the brace position.

Research shows that assuming the brace position increases the chances of survival in an emergency crash landing by reducing flailing and the effects of secondary impact. When in an aeroplane with seats relatively far apart, you should rest your head and chest against your legs while holding your ankles. Your head should be faced in your lap and not turned to one side. When in an aeroplane with very close seating, place your head and arms against the seat in front of you.  

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