You’ve probably heard that there is a much greater chance of dying in a car crash than a plane crash. Yet, that isn’t exactly comforting when you are 30,000 feet off the ground and start to feel turbulence. But, you can take comfort in this fact: Only a small percentage of airplane accidents are fatal. That’s right: you CAN survive an airplane crash! Here are some tips on how to survive a plane crash which very well might save your life.
Can You Really Survive an Airplane Crash?
If the airplane you are in starts to go down, you are done for – right? It might seem impossible to survive an airplane crash, but the chances are actually quite good.
Figures from the International Civil Aviation Organization show that, of the 90 airplane accidents in 2013, only 9 were fatal.
Even if the airline accident is fatal, it doesn’t mean that everyone on board is going to die. Figures from the US National Transportation Safety Board show that 95.7% of people survive airplane accidents. Even if we look at just the serious airplane accidents, the survival rate is still 76%.
Does it still seem impossible to survive an airplane crash? Consider these amazing survival stories.
In January 2015, a 7 year old girl walked away from a plane crash which killed her family. Her survival is credited to the fact that her father taught her survival skills. When the plane went down, she uses the flaming airplane wing to set a stick on fire and used it to light her way through the woods until she found help. She walked ¾ a mile with broken bones and without any shoes on.
Last June, a Colombian woman survived 4 days in the jungle with her baby after a plane crash. She had a broken ankle and severe burns from pulling her baby out of the burning airplane, but managed to survive by wisely using the foods in the diaper bag and drinking coconut water.
In July, a teen girl survived a plane crash that killed her grandparents, and hiked out of the woods to find help. She followed a creek and had to sleep one night outside before finding help.
3 Tips to Survive a Plane Crash
Every single plane crash is different, so you can’t predict or plan for all the variables. However, you can focus on certain elements of plane crashes and prepare for them. These elements are:
- The safest seat on an airplane
- How to survive the impact
- How to survive fire on an airplane
The Safest Seat on an Airplane
There is a lot of debate about this one, because the “safest” seat depends on what type of accident we are talking about. For example, a crash landing will be different than an accident where the engine catches on fire. The best answer seems to be from a study done by Popular Mechanics. They looked at 36 years of airplane accident reports and seating charts and came to the conclusion that the back of the airplane is safest: “Passengers near the tail of a plane are about 40 percent more likely to survive a crash than those in the first few rows up front.”
In a crash landing, it is usually the front half of the plane which gets torn off. So, even if you can afford it, you might want to stay out of First Class!
Also, get a seat by an exit. This will allow you to evacuate faster during an accident, which will save you from flames, smoke, and explosions.
How to Survive the Impact
Want to see what happens when a plane crashes? Check out this video of a plane crash. The video comes from an experiment in which a Boeing 727 was intentionally crashed. The plane was filled with crash-test dummies and high-tech recording equipment. Afterwards, experts came in to analyze the damage and determine what steps could be taken to increase chances of survival.
The single best thing you can do to survive the impact from a plane crash is bracing.
The brace position might not seem like it would work very well, but studies show that it actually could save your life in an airplane crash. In the flight crash experiment, passengers who didn’t brace had concussions from hitting the seat in front of them, or spinal injuries from jerking forward.
Many airplane safety cards say to put your head down in your lap, OR to put it on the seat in front of you. Of the two impact brace positions, the first is better. When your head is down on your lap, there is less of a “jackknife” effect from the impact.
How to Survive a Fire on an Airplane
After an airplane crash or accident, fire is common. But it isn’t so much the flames you need to worry about. It is the noxious fumes which will get you.
Experts at the FAA Training and Research Center in Oklahoma told NBC that, once the plane comes to a rest, time is of the essence.
- After 30 seconds, the smoke can start filling the body of the plane as fire eats into the fuselage
- After 60 seconds, the burning plastics, fuel, and fabrics can all turn the smoke toxic
- At 2 minutes, there is a serious risk of a flash over with fire engulfing the entire fuselage
You better be able to get out before those 2 minutes are up!
To get out quickly, first don’t do anything stupid like grabbing for a laptop or your carry-on bag. Just get out! Hopefully you’ve got a seat near an exit so you can get out.
A good tip is to always know where your exits are. When you sit down on the flight, make a quick note of how many rows in front or behind you the nearest exit is. That way, if you need to find the exit in the darkness of the smoke, you can feel the backs of the seats and count the number of rows to the exit.