Top 10 Airplane Crash Survival Tips

Top 10 Airplane Crash Survival Tips

Andrew’s Note:  Today we present an article by guest writer Alan Carr on the Top 10 Airplane Crash Survival Tips.  Alan presents ten simple ways to increase your chances of survival in the unlikely event of a commercial airplane crash.  I have a safety protocol I follow when I board a commercial airline and I’m going to have to modify it a little based on Alan’s research.  Preparing yourself for even such an unlikely event gets you in the habit not only of survival thinking but may also save your life in a worst case scenario.  One of the reasons that this topic is of interest to me is that I nearly lost my father in an airplane crash when I was about two years old.  It can and does happen!

Top 10 Airplane Crash Survival Tips

Airplane CrashFinding yourself in an aviation accident ranks at the top of most travelers fears when they think about flying. Even seasoned frequent flyers think about it, although from their experience they realize the odds of being in an accident are very slim. It is surprising to note that most passengers think that if a plane crashes they have little or no chance of survival. This is an example of a myth that could cost you your life.

First of all, it is highly unlikely that a person will even be in a plane crash. The odds are just one in sixty million. In other words, you could safely fly for 160,000 years before experiencing a crash. For those unfortunate enough to be in a crash, the odds of you surviving are actually in your favor. The National Transportation Safety Board analyzed all the plane crashes from 1983 to 2000 and they found that even in the most “serious” accidents (those involving fire, injuries, and severe damage) the survival rate was still over 76 percent.

What about the other 24 percent? Were they doomed? The answer may surprise you. The European Transport Safety Council determined that 40 percent of plane crash fatalities worldwide are actually survivable. Out of every one hundred people that died, 40 could have survived if they would have done something differently.

Contrary to common belief, in a disaster such as a fire or plane accident, people don’t lose their minds and panic. In fact, the 10-80-10 rule comes into play. This rule states that 10 percent of people will take stock of their situation and act decisively. Only the other 10 percent of people will flail about and exhibit the patterns of mass panic. Now for the scary part, the middle 80 percent will do nothing to help themselves. They waste precious time in a state of frozen immobility. They are fully aware that they need to act but they can’t come to terms with the situation they find themselves in. The crash is a novel experience they can’t comprehend nor find a workable solution to. As their minds struggle to match the experience with a workable action, they remain in a quiet nearly catatonic state. Essentially they are waiting for someone to tell them what to do.

If you want to increase your odds of surviving a plane crash, don’t be like those guys. Prepare yourself mentally beforehand. Studies show that you only have 90 seconds to get out of a plane. After 90 seconds the smoke or fire will kill you. Follow these simple guidelines and be a survivor, not a statistic.

  1. Sit as close to an emergency exit as you can. Choose a seat no farther than five rows away from the exit if at all possible. Beyond that, your chances for survival diminish substantially.
  2. If sitting by an emergency exit, take note of how to operate it. Lives are often lost because of bottlenecks at the emergency exit. Make sure you will be able to open it quickly if called upon to do so.
  3. Pay attention to the preflight emergency instructions. Pull out the safety card and study it. [Andrew’s Note:  It’s also common courtesy to the stewards and stewardesses whose primary responsibility is really passenger safety, not fetching you another pillow or scotch-on-the-rocks.]
  4. Sit in an aisle seat. In an emergency you have fewer people in your way.
  5. Keep your shoes on.  [Andrew’s Note:  …and wear good shoes that protect your feet.  More and more people are flying with flip-flops now to speed their way through security when they should be thinking of safety, not convenience]
  6. Wear your seatbelt. Keep it snug and low on your hips.
  7. Keep drinking before and during the flight to a minimum. Or better yet, don’t drink at all.
  8. Count the rows to the nearest exit. Could you find it with your eyes closed? In an emergency requiring escape, you likely won’t be able to see from the smoke.
  9. Have a second escape route and know how many rows you are away from it.
  10. Don’t sit in a row with a bulkhead in front of you. Seats in front of you are designed to absorb impact forces. Bulkheads don’t.

Following these simple suggestions will greatly increase your chances of surviving a plane crash. By thinking ahead of time about worse case scenarios, you will greatly increase your likelihood of acting like those guys in the top 10 percent. They take account of the emergency and then proactively follow a plan to escape.

About The Author:  Alan Carr is an avid aviation aficionado that writes on all aspects of the flying world from the business to the technical. He currently works with to provide resources on aircraft related information.


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