What should I do if I am in a plane that is about to crash in minutes?

Quora.com is a question-and-answer site where content is written and edited by its community of users. Occasionally we syndicate content from the site if we think it will interest PWPF readers. This article originally appeared on Quora.com in response to the question “What should I do if I am in a plane that is about to crash in minutes?” answered by Dave Inch, Captain, B-787

Remove everything sharp from your pockets. Loosen your belt and remove your tie or scarf. Remove high heeled shoes. Take glasses off for landing so they don’t fly off so are available to help you see your way out if you need them.

Know where your closest exit is and a backup for the type of landing… some exits can’t be used in water landings. Count the number of rows to those exits and try to identify any protrusions that you might use to find them if the cabin is full of smoke.

Stay in your seat until instructed. Do not open a door or window exit without direct instructions from a flight attendant.

Have a piece of cloth (preferably damp) to assist in breathing if there is smoke. If there is smoke during evacuation, stay as low as possible.

Follow the instructions of the flight attendants in their pre-landing briefing. 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.

If a water landing DO NOT inflate your lifevest until you are actually at the doorway. If you inflate it and the aircraft fills with water, you will get trapped on the ceiling and not be able to swim underwater to get out the exit. If this happens, get out of your lifevest to be able to swim out and hang onto someone once out. Lifevests easily buoy 2 people.

Although you didn’t ask, after exiting the aircraft, move well away towards the wind so that smoke and fire move away from you. Do not lie down in tall grass. Do not completely leave the area so that you can be accounted for.

All that being said, most catastrophic crashes are not anticipated so it is rare to get much advance notice. In those cases, if you survive, follow the flight attendants’ directions and don’t take anything with you.


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