We all know that air travel is the safest way to be moved from point A to point B. However, there are a few things you need to consider when you fly. As with any form of travel there is some risk to flight. In my life as an Army Brat, I have spent many hours onboard various types of aircraft and although I have never been in a plane crash, I have learned what to do in increase my chances of survival.

  • Avoid wearing synthetics: Even if an airliner does not crash, fuel spills and engine problems can result in fire. Synthetics will melt when exposed to heat. If you are wearing nylon (including hose, ladies), polyester or other such materials, they will melt to your skin if exposed to heat. This causes very severe burns to the skin and flesh, much more than cotton, wool or other natural fibers.
  • Wear proper clothing: When flying always wear long pants, closed-toed rubber-soled shoes and if possible, a long sleeved shirt. The reason for this is the same as above, fire. Covering your skin gives you an extra layer of protection between you and your environment. Remember, even if you are flying out of Florida or Hawaii, it’s a lot colder at 20,000 feet, even in the tropics.
  • Hair! The day you plan to fly avoid putting hair spray, gel or other such things on your head. Contrary to popular belief, hair does not burn on its own. It will “melt” but the hair spray is what burns. Fire needs fuel and oxygen to burn, the hair spray or gel is the fuel, since it is spread over such a large surface area it burns very hot and very fast. Also, if you have long hair wear it up or pulled back away from your face. This will reduce the risk of burning your face as well as make me much happier if I am sitting near you.
  • Know your seat: When you get on the plane count the number of rows to the nearest emergency exit. One of the hazards of flight is the cabin filling with smoke. In only a few moments you can find yourself in a zero visibility soup. By counting the rows you can find your way to the emergency exit by feel.
  • Booking your seat: Being a man of over six feet with size 14 shoes, I find it very difficult to fit in most airline seats. The natural solution is the emergency exit row. This row of the plane must be wider to allow easier egress from the aircraft. If you choose to sit in the exit row you must have the strength and presence of mind to open the door in an emergency. When you have to open the door, REMAIN SEATED. Standing up only makes it more difficult, trust me on this. First, throw the door release, then with your hand farthest from the door reach for the upper handle and with your nearest arm grab the lower handle. Pull the whole door towards you. The hatch will come away from the bulkhead; don’t try to put the hatch back out the door, this will waste time. Remaining seated, place the hatch at your feet. Now stand and exit the plane, if I was in your situation I would say close to help others away from the plane.
  • Where to sit? If you want to survive a violent plane crash I would not recommend first class. The two strongest parts of the aircraft are the tail and the fuselage over the wing. The reason these parts of the aircraft remain intact during a crash is the presence of many load-bearing forms. Where the wings connect to the fuselage is very strong because all the weight of the aircraft of focused on that point in flight, so it is reinforced. The same is true with the tail. On many aircraft the three “wings” that make up the tail are connected directly to the fuselage. Also, the tail usually has a smaller diameter than the main body of the aircraft. Since the bulkheads are of the same construction but smaller and closer together, the tail is more likely to remain intact during a crash.
  • Know your aircraft: Finally, keep up to date on problems with specific aircraft. Usually these are highly publicized in the national media. Ask your travel agent or airline booker what type of aircraft in which you will be flying. If they won’t tell you remind them that they are required by law to tell you.

Enjoy your flight.