When was the last time you paid attention to the safety instructions on an airplane? Be honest.
Flying isn’t as glamorous as it used to be, and it can be tempting to read your book or listen to music instead of paying attention to where the exits are — especially when the odds of being killed in a plane crash are about 1 in 11 million.
Still, it’s always good to be prepared, and there are a few actions you can take in a crisis that are particularly crucial for survival, according to a pilot.
Dave Inch is captain of a Boeing 787 — a plane used by many international airlines like United Airlines and British Airways. He revealed in a post on Quora how you can increase your chances if your plane starts to go down.
First, you should make sure you are as prepared as possible for the crash and the subsequent escape route by removing everything sharp from your pockets, loosening your belt, and removing any ties or scarfs. You should also take off high heels and glasses if you’re wearing them.
Next, he said, know where your closest exit is and a backup exit, because some cannot be used if the plane lands on water. Then count the number of rows to the exits and try to identify any protrusions and obstacles in the way, just in case the cabin fills with smoke.
Don’t get up from your seat unless you’re instructed to do so, and don’t open any doors or windows unless you’re told to by a flight attendant. If there is smoke, a damp piece of cloth can assist in breathing, as can staying as low to the ground as possible.
“Follow the instructions of the flight attendants in their pre-landing briefing,” he 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.”
Other instructions were not to inflate your life vest until you’re out the doorway. This is important because if it inflates inside and the aircraft fills with water, you will get trapped and not be able to swim underwater to an exit. If this does happen, take the lifevest off and hold onto someone else once you’re outside, as one vest can buoy two people.
After exiting the aircraft, make sure you move well away from smoke and fire, and do not lie down in tall grass in case it catches alight. That being said, don’t completely leave the area so you can be accounted for.
“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.”