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In an emergency

Many people believe that if your aircraft crashes, you're dead anyway. Wrong. Over 70% of airline accidents are survivable. 71% of people who die in survivable crashes, do so after the aircraft comes to a complete stop. In many cases its because they are unprepared for the crash.

In the event of an evacuation, the best preparation is to be aware of your closest exits, be ready to follow flight and cabin crew instructions, wear slide friendly clothes and shoes, and leave all your possessions behind. If the emergency oxygen masks drop down, put your own mask on first. This will decrease the risk of you passing out before being able to help your children or other passengers.

Crash position

It has been proven that passengers who assume the brace position sustain substantially less serious injuries than other passengers. A twin engined aircraft struck terrain during a landing approach in less than favourable conditions. Most of the 16 passengers were sleeping or reading and there was no warning of the imminent accident. One passenger woke up, looked out the window and saw the aircraft was about to hit trees. He immediately lowered his head and braced his arms and knees against the seat back in front of him. He suffered a fractured leg and wrist and a scalp wound. He was the only survivor.

Know what to listen for

Phrases such as 'brace', 'head down, stay down'; and 'grab your ankles' are commonly used to tell passengers to assume a protective position. This position is shown on the safety card, located in the aircraft seat pocket in front of you.

Your seat allocation will determine the safest crash position to assume. Some things to keep in mind:

  • Push back into your seat.
  • Tighten your safety belt.

If the seatback or bulkhead in front of you is beyond reach:

  • Upper body bent forward as far as possible with the chest close to the thighs and knees.
  • Head down as low as possible.
  • Arms around or behind legs, tucked in against your body.
  • Lower legs angled behind the knee joints.
  • Feet placed flat on the floor.
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If the seatback or bulkhead in front of you is within reach:

  • Upper body bent forward as far as possible.
  • Head touching the seat back or bulkhead in front.
  • Hands placed one on top of the other and on top of the head. Fingers should not be interlocked.
  • Forearms tucked in against each side of the face.
  • Lower legs angled behind the knee joints.
  • Feet placed flat on the floor.
Brace position - seat is within reach

Know the correct protective position for your seat allocation. Pay careful attention to the safety demo. Read the passenger safety information card. If in doubt, ask the flight attendant.

The common misconception that leaning forward and placing your head against a stationary object is unsafe probably comes from motor vehicle travel. Sitting upright in an accident is approved behaviour in a motor vehicle, however it is unsuitable for air travel because of the lack of shoulder harnesses and airbags in aircraft.

Infants

An unrestrained infant cannot be held safely in an accident. The safest place for an infant or small child in an emergency is in a child restraint in their own seat. For information on child restraint systems, see our section on Travelling with children - Seating.

Things to know

It is imperative you understand how to use the emergency equipment, and what to do if an incident occurs. If you are unsure about anything, ask one of the flight attendants.

Decompression

  • Pull oxygen mask toward you to start oxygen flow.
  • Put your oxygen mask on as quickly as possible.
  • Help children and others with their masks only after yours is secure.

Fire and smoke

  • If possible use a wet cloth or paper towel over your nose and mouth.
  • Move away from the cause of fire and smoke.
  • Stay low. The air is clearer close to the floor.
  • You should have already counted the number of rows to the exit. Use this count to find the exit.
  • Use the lighting on the floor to make your way to the nearest exit.
  • Once outside get well away from the aircraft.
  • If possible help others
  • Never go back into a burning aircraft

Flotation devices

  • Know where they are and how to use them.
  • Life vests (under seat, if available), life rafts, and some seat cushions and evacuation slides can be used as flotation devices.

How to slide

  • Remove high-heeled shoes, as they can damage slides.
  • Jump feet first into the center of slide.
  • Do not sit down to slide.
  • Place arms across chest, elbows in, and legs and feet together.

Evacuating the aircraft

  • Follow instructions of crew members.
  • Stay calm and proceed quickly to the nearest exit.
  • Leave all your possessions behind.
  • Help others after you've helped yourself.