Stories by Louis Ibah
Tearing through the sky at speeds sometimes ranging between 500-600 miles per hour and at altitudes of 30 to 40,000 feet, flying in an aircraft certainly creates anxiety among numerous passengers. Safety questions such as the following constantly run through the minds of even the most frequent air passenger: what if the engine fails mid-air? What if fire engulfs the aircraft? What if the landing gears, the tyres refuse to come out when landing? What happens if there is a loss of pressure? If a passenger or crew has a medical emergency, what happens? And of course, what do i do if the aircraft is about to crash?
If you find yourself among the numerous passengers that the above questions run riot in their minds during a flight, the most assuring response you can get from experts in the aviation industry is that flying remains the safest transport mode designed by man. But that does not imply that an aircraft, like another man-made mechanical or electrical device is not susceptible to failure; it simply infers that in the manufacturing and operation of an aircraft, there are more than enough safety and security facilities/technologies, processes and regulations designed not to make it fail.
And one piece of information that can also be reassuring is that 80 per cent of all airplane crashes happen within the first three minutes after takeoff or in the last eight minutes before landing. The fact that most accidents happen on takeoff means you should feel very safe and relaxed to enjoy the journey once an aircraft has attained a cruising altitude.
What if something goes wrong
Sometimes, things do go wrong in an aircraft either during take-off or landing or even in the course of the flight. In fact, in airports across the globe, and on daily basis, there are repeated incidences that demands the abortion of a flight or an emergency or crash-landing by pilots. According to data from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), of the United State of America, 40 percent of airline crash fatalities occur in crashes that are survivable. In other words, many deaths are preventable only if passengers knew the proper steps to take to safeguard their lives.
Right steps to take
The odds of dying in a commercial airline flight that is involved in an accident or incident like an emergency or crash-landing are actually as low as 9 million to 1. The decisions you make could make the difference between life and death. Almost 95 per cent of airplane crashes have survivors, so even if the worst does happen, your still have the chance to survive.
Read the safety card
Always ensure that you read the safety card of the aircraft that is usually tucked in the seat in front of you. Make an effort to understand it; ask questions from cabin crew even if you do it with a joke. Don’t assume you know it all or that it doesn’t matter. Always listen to the pre-flight safety speech. Yes, you may have heard it all before, and you’ll probably never need it, but if you keep your headphones on during the pre-flight instructions or ignore the safety card, you’ll be missing out on information that could be vital in the event of an emergency landing or a crash.
Get out in 90 seconds
Whether the aircraft lands on land or is ditched in water, in any emergency, always aim to get out of the aircraft within the first. 90 seconds. According to the US National Transportation Safety Board, 68 percent of plane crash deaths are due to post-crash fire, not injuries sustained from the impact in the crash itself. The smoke in an airplane fire can be very thick and highly toxic. Fire and smoke are responsible for the largest percentage of crash fatalities.And it takes, on average, just 90 seconds for a fire to engulf the plane’s fuselage. So as soon as a crash-landing occurs, take immediate action to get to an emergency exit and get off the plane.Protect yourself from smoke.
If the emergency involves the loss of pressure, avoid becoming complacent and remember that it takes only a few seconds of oxygen deprivation to cause mental impairment, so if the oxygen mask drops, make all the effort to put it on right away (before assisting others). Do not expect assistance from flight attendants because they might be incapacitated during emergencies.
Assume the brace position
The brace position can increase your chances of survival in an emergency crash landing. In addition to fastening your seatbelt low and tight, bend over with your forehead over your lap and your arms holding your knees. Alternatively, lean forward so your forehead is touching the head of the seat in front of you, bend your arms and place your hands and forearms against the seat back as well (on either side of your face).
Assessing the situation
Think faster. If the plane is going to crash, you almost always have several minutes to prepare before impact.. Use this time to once again review where the exits are.
Try to determine what surface the plane will land on so you can customize your preparations. If you’re going to be landing in water, for example, put on your life jacket but do not inflate it. If you inflate it in the plane, when it starts to fill up with water, the life jacket will force you upwards against the cabin roof and it will be very hard to swim back down, leaving you trapped. Instead, hold your breath and swim out, once you’re out, inflate it.
Know the exit row
Once there is an emergency, count the number of seats between your seat and the exit row. Find the exit closest to you, and count the number of seats that it’ll take to get to it. If the plane crash lands, it could be smoky, loud, or confusing in the cabin afterward. If you need to escape, you might have to feel your way to the exit, which will be a lot easier if you know where it is and how far.
If you’re sitting in an exit row, study the door and make sure you know how to open it if you need to. In normal circumstances the flight attendant will open the door, but if they are injured or incapacitated, you’ll need to do it. Majority of the passengers who experience tragedies in air accidents are those that are considered mentally and physically unhealthy or unfit. People who are fit have an easier time navigating the narrow aisles with speed and precision.
It therefore makes a lot of safety sense for persons who consider themselves as unfit to always go for seats at the tail of the aircraft where they have 40per cent higher survival rates than those in the first few rows, in the event of a crash. Because a quick escape gives you the best chance for survival, it’s best to get seats as close as possible to an exit, on the aisle, and in the back of the plane.
Yes, it’s actually statistically safer to fly economy than first-class. You save money and stay safer.
Remember the ‘Plus 3/Minus 8’ Rule
Nearly 80 percent of plane crashes occur in the first three minutes after takeoff or the last eight minutes before landing. During this time, always strive to be extra vigilant, it’s not the best time to sleep, rather you should stay alert and awake. Be sure your seatbelt is securely fastened (low and tight), and avoid drinking or eating during these periods of takeoff or landing.