The odds of getting killed in a plane crash are about 1 in 11 million, but it is always good to listen to the safety instructions when flying, and prepare to take specific actions in a crisis that could prove crucial for survival.
Pilot Dave Inch is captain of a Boeing 787 — a plane used by many international airlines such as United Airlines and British Airways. In a recent post on Quora, he advised travelers what to do if they are in a plane and an emergency landing or crash is imminent.
Inch recommended that you prepare for the impact and subsequent escape by removing anything sharp from your pockets, loosening your belt and removing ties or scarfs, high-heeled shoes and glasses.
Knowing the location of the nearest exit and a backup exit is critical, because some cannot be used if the plane lands on water. Count the number of rows between yourself and the exits, and identify any protrusions and obstacles in the way, in the event that the cabin fills with smoke. If there is smoke, stay as low in the aircraft as possible. Covering your nose and mouth with a damp piece of cloth can assist you in breathing.
Inch also advises travelers to remain in their seats unless they are instructed by a crew member to get up. Refrain from opening any doors or windows without instruction.
“Follow the instructions of the flight attendants in their pre-landing briefing,” Inch wrote. “If everyone is on the same page and understands what is expected of them, people will be working together to get everyone out. Don’t waste your time taking video with your camera…. LISTEN and PAY ATTENTION. If you survive with a video, it’s cool. If you die because you were more interested in taking a video than paying attention, it’s not so cool.”
Inch also reminded travelers not to inflate life vests, if needed, until they are outside of the aircraft. After exiting the aircraft, move well away from smoke and fire, refraining from standing or lying down in tall grass in case it catches fire. Remain near the aircraft so that the crew can account for you.
“All that being said, most catastrophic crashes are not anticipated so it is rare to get much advance notice,” Inch wrote. “In those cases, if you survive, follow the flight attendants’ directions and don’t take anything with you.”