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In light of an Emirates plane’s crash landing yesterday in Dubai, we’ve got travel safety on the brain. While the images we saw on the news of the fiery plane looked absolutely terrifying, the Emirates crew did everything right, kept everyone aware and up-to-date during and after the situation and confirmed that there were no fatalities among the 282 passengers and 18 crew who were on board the aircraft. Sadly, though, one firefighter did lose his life while assisting with the rescue.
During an emergency, common sense can be fleeting and you might not be able to think straight, listen to instructions and wrap your brain around the situation at hand in a hurry. To help make sense of it all, we chatted with TPG’s favorite Insider Flight Attendant, Carrie A. Trey, and came up with this nifty list of five things you should always remember in the event of a crash landing.
1. Pay Attention to Safety Announcements
I know, I know — by the time you finally get on the plane, all you really want to do is put your headphones on and tune out the world. But before you do that, it’s a good idea to listen up when the flight attendants start their safety presentation, whether it’s happening right in front of you or appears in the form of an airline safety video — they’re not always boring either, as previous pop-culture themed videos by Air New Zealand, for instance, have involved Hobbit characters and random celebs like exercise guru Richard Simmons. No matter how many times you’ve heard the safety speech, a five-minute refresher never hurt anyone and knowing the key procedures can really make a difference in an emergency situation. Plus, there’s another good reason you should pay attention.
“The safety demonstration is a great time to familiarize yourself with the faces of the people who will be giving you instructions in an emergency,” said Trey. “You may only see one or two cabin crew during the service (ie. the ones working your aisle) but during the demo, you’re likely to see most of the crew. Knowing who to look for in an emergency can be the difference between getting out safely and not.”
2. Know Where the Exit Doors Are Located — and How to Open Them
Keep an eye out for the nearest emergency exit and remember that it may actually be behind you.
“Far too many people take [the safety demo] for granted,” said Trey. “So many airlines have different configurations of even the same airplane (Delta and their 767s, or Lufthansa and their 747s for example) and where you’re sitting relative to the exits may be different, even in the same class of service you just flew in, on what appears to be the same plane.”
And while you may not necessarily be called on to assist during a crash landing, familiarizing yourself with the steps for opening the bulky emergency doors can’t hurt either.
3. Always Wear Your Shoes During Takeoff and Landing
“Shoes are always a good idea on the airplane, at any phase of flight — the number of people I see go into the bathrooms in just socks or barefoot is shocking! — but especially during take off and landing,” said Trey. “You don’t want to be running through debris or a field while barefoot.”
One notable exception to this, of course, is heels, which could end up popping an emergency slide or raft.
“Ladies, if you’re wearing heels, take them off to go down the slide, then put them back on. But never wear heels on the slide,” said Trey. “Puncturing a slide means one less exit is available to everyone trying to get off the plane, and this could literally be the difference between life and death depending on how many other exits are usable.”
4. Keep Your Passport Handy
“In the aftermath of a crash, having ID on you will be handy whether you’re trying to prove who you are or someone is trying to identify you. So keep that passport close,” said Trey. ‘Nuff said.
5. Leave Everything Else Behind
While the crew of Emirates flight EK521 did everything right, the same, unfortunately, can’t be said for the passengers. In this video posted by the Khaleej Times showing the chaos inside the burning plane, you can hear the captain saying, “evacuate, evacuate” and the crew shouting for people to “release seat belts” and “leave everything,” but people in the video can be seen reaching for their luggage, which is a major no-no.
“When we start shouting commands during an evacuation, the one universal command at every airline is “LEAVE EVERYTHING,” said Trey. “Do NOT start going through the bins to get your bags.” Carrie went on to explain how not closing bins properly in a hurry can cause them to be obstacles for others trying to leave the plane, and how your bags can actually end up being hazards themselves, since they may end up damaging a perfectly good slide or tripping other passengers if left on the floor.
“What could possibly be so important that it’s worth risking your life and that of those around you?” said Trey. “The time it takes for you to get that bag and block others from safely escaping could be the difference between life and death — for you and for them. You’re trying to escape with your life, not your Louis [Vuitton].”
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.
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