Surviving an airplane crash or emergency landing is possible. While the news usually reports on catastrophic loss of life as a result of an airplane crash, the Federal Aviation Administration estimates that once every 11 days, an airplane is forced to make an emergency landing. Most of these emergency landings or minor crashes are survivable if passengers remain calm and follow directions.
To survive an airplane crash, start at the beginning of the flight by paying close attention when the cabin staff give the safety speech. Although you may feel like you have heard the speech before, different planes have different safety procedures. Pay attention: it might save your life later. You should also review the safety card provided by the airline. After the safety speech, look around the plane to orient yourself. Count the number of rows to the exit so that you can find it in poor vision conditions common in an airplane crash. Make sure your seat belt is tightly fastened across your lap, and leave it fastened throughout the flight.
There are some common sense precautions passengers can take to increase their ability to survive an airplane crash. Wear long sleeved cotton garments and sensible shoes. Cotton is less flammable in the event of a fire, and long sleeves and pants will help protect you from debris and flames. Sensible shoes allow you to run from a burning plane and move quickly down the aisle. It is also an excellent idea to have a jacket or blanket ready in case the airplane crash occurs in a cold area.
If the cabin staff indicate that an airplane crash or emergency landing is going to occur, follow their directions closely. Make sure that your luggage is properly stowed, and that no sharp objects are in your pockets. Assume the crash position by bracing your hands on the seat in front of you and tucking your head against your chest. Brace your feet firmly on the floor of the aircraft, and hold the crash position until the airplane has come to a complete stop.
An airplane crash is often accompanied by smoke and fire. The smoke can be very toxic, and it is important to protect your lungs. If you have been directed to use oxygen, as is common with a loss of cabin pressure, put your mask on and secure it before helping other passengers. You may have as little as 15 seconds to do this before you begin to feel faint, and you cannot help other passengers if you are unconscious. When evacuating or moving in a smoke filled aircraft, protect your airway with a damp cloth over your nose and mouth.
When the airplane stops moving, start evacuating. Leave your belongings behind. They will make it difficult for you and others to move. Remember to remain calm, and assist other passengers if they need help. Move towards the nearest exit and check to make sure that conditions are safe before going outside. If the airplane crash has occurred in water, inflate your life vest after you exit the plane, and get rid of your shoes and heavy garments to make it easier to swim. If the airplane crash is on dry land, exit the plane safely and move well upwind of the aircraft to wait for rescue.