Plane crashes are one of the worst tragedies that occur with minimum chances of survivors, but little precaution and knowledge beforehand can be useful at the eleventh hour.
Pakistan was left in shock and grief when a Pakistan International Airline – a national carrier – jet crashed in the mountaneous area of Abbottabad with all 47 people aboard losing their lives. The victims also included noted religious figure Junaid Jamshed.
Concerns are growing over air safety as media in recent years have reported near-misses following overshot runways, engines catching fire and landing gear deployment failures.
In the worst such disaster, in 2010, all 152 people on board were killed when a passenger plane operated by airline Air Blue crashed in heavy rain near Islamabad.
Two years later, all 127 aboard were killed when a plane operated by Bhoja Air crashed near Islamabad.
We bring you some useful tips for emergency situations during air travel.
1- Is there any ‘safety seat’ in the plane?
A 2011 study by University of Greenwich professor Ed Galea supports the theory of the “five-row rule”? This refers to the idea that if you’re sitting within five rows of an emergency exit, you have a statistically better chance of surviving a crash.
But an expert at the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration disagrees.
“There really isn’t a ‘safest seat’ on the plane,” said Cynthia Corbett, an FAA research scientist who specializes in airplane cabin safety.
“It really kind of depends on the emergency you’re going to have. Different parts of the plane can be affected in different ways, depending on what the event is. Just reinforce your own propensity for survival, by knowing how to get where you need to go. If your first choice in exits is blocked, then you should have a second choice.”
2- Don’t just avoid safety talk
Some people may find safety talk boring. It’s repetitive. But it could save your life! The presentation — by video or by flight attendants — explaining what to do in case the plane goes down offers key information like: How do I get out? How do I escape if I can’t see? Where’s my flotation device?
3- Make sure you read the safety card
You know that safety card in the pocket of the seat in front of you? Think of it as a map leading you toward survival. Read it. It shows how the plane you’re on will be evacuated.
Think about the dozens — or even hundreds — of fellow passengers who will need to get off the plane ASAP. It helps to know what to expect.
The card shows how all safety gadgets inside the plane works.
4- You must know how to brace
Do you? Have you ever tried it? Sometimes, passengers have only seconds to react in an emergency. If aircraft crew members are commanding passengers to assume the brace position, it helps to know in advance what they’re talking about. The safety talk and card will help you.
5- Be aware of the exits
Plan your escape. Visualize how you — and perhaps children you’re traveling with — are going to get out of the plane.
During some emergencies, it may be impossible to see the nearest exit. Before departure, Corbett recommends counting armrests from your seat to the closest way out.
6- Move quickly. You have 90 seconds
According to Ben Sherwood, author of the New York Times bestseller “The Survivor’s Club”, you have 90 seconds to get out of the plane after a crash.
Many passengers in plane crashes survive the initial impact. It’s what happens next that often kills them.
This includes fire, smoke and sometimes water. Sherwood advises using 90 seconds as a time frame for escaping.
7- Be alert during takeoffs and landings
Statistics show that most crashes occur in the minutes surrounding takeoffs and landings. So it stands to reason that passengers who want to increase their chances of survival should be especially aware of what’s going on at that time.
Drinking alcoholic beverages before departure or arrival could hamper your response in a crisis. And sleeping during these times is probably not the best option if you’re looking to increase survivability.
8- What you wear also counts!
Make sure you wear no high heels or flip-flops. Avoid short pants. Dress for the possibility that you might have to pass quickly through wreckage — or even run away from the plane.
9- Staying fit is always helpful
This may go without saying, but the fitter you are, the better your chances of survival. Overweight or slower-moving passengers obviously could be at a disadvantage during an emergency evacuation. But still having prior knowledge of precautions during mid-air emergency will be helpful.
10- If possible, avoid airlines with poor safety records
It is seen that we are living in the safest era in the history of commercial aviation. Nonetheless, every airline has a safety record, and those records are tracked. Various groups offer rankings for airline safety.