I went to the library today. If you know anything about me, you’ll know that the library is a weakness of mine. I just get carried away. I lose track of time, the quick stop turning into multiple hours, as I wander and par ooze.
The travel section.
There’s no point in even fighting the temptation. It’s like going to the grocery store when you are hungry and forgetting your list at home. You’re like, “Really?! Was the hazelnut cookie butter and five different kinds of trail mix necessary?!”
Nerd Alert. I’m sorry. The travel section is now empty. Please check back after September 5th.
I walked by a bookshelf, and my eyes landed on a title that declared, Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Travel, and I thought, “Now this is what my life and travels are missing. I better snag this handy guide so I can be a savvy traveler.” Removing the slim paperback from its neighbors, the words on the cover gave promise of how to survive a runaway camel and UFO Abduction. Who knows when this knowledge will come in handy!
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One of the topics in this trusty little guidebook shares words of wisdom on “How To Survive An Airplane Crash.” Curious to find out what exactly increases survivability in the 1 in 11 millionth chance that there is an accident, and realizing that this topic might be a bit more relevant for my life than “How To Survive A Volcanic Eruption,” (not too many volcanos in Hermosa Beach last I checked) I delved forward, reading what “the experts” had to say.
Here is what I learned, with personal commentary included.
To Decrease The Odds of A Crash
- Take a non-stop flight, if possible.
- Most accidents happen immediately after take-off or before landing. The less take-offs and landings your trip makes, the opportunities for accident decreases. So, my fun little airline is your perfect choice. Only non-stop flights. No connections. Only flying on certain days of the week, and only at specific times. If your schedule is flexible and you won’t roll your eyes when you have to swipe your credit card for carry-on bags and bottled water, then sign up today. I did, and I’m having the time of my life (minus the delays of course).
- Watch the skies
- Many accidents involve severe weather. On a recent flight to Northwest Arkansas, our plane made it in just in time before the downpour and lightening engulfed the airport, causing the 165 passengers and six crew members to sit on the ramp, as the ground crew had to wait to deplane the travelers due to the storm. Was it scary? Nope! Just made us more delayed, but that was fine, cause at that point it really wasn’t a good idea to leave the safety of the airplane. The weather improved and all passengers made it safely off the aircraft.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts, and pants made out of natural fibers
- In most cases, people survive a crash, but are killed or injured by post-impact fire and its by-products. Recommendations include avoiding polyester and nylon, both extremely flammable materials. Ok, so explain to me this: Why do flight attendants wear nylons and polyester? Hmmm…we at least got the closed toed shoe thing going on.
- Select a seat on the aisle, somewhere in the rear half of the cabin
- Odds of survival are higher in the back of the plane, with the easiest exit-ability happening in an aisle seat. So, if you can put up with the smelly lavatories, loudness of the engines, and high percentage of babies in the back, you are golden.
I found my spot
- Listen to the safety briefing and locate your nearest exits
- There is debate about whether or not electronics really do interfere with the navigational system of the aircraft. I have my own theories, which, are just opinions, and wouldn’t necessarily hold any weight in court, but my personal thought: The true reason that you are required o disconnect from the world, once the main cabin door has been closed, is so that the flight attendants can have your undivided attention, and you will listen to the safety demo. We want you to be aware of your exits and all the dos and don’ts because in the event of an emergency, our job is to evacuate you and every other passenger in 90 seconds or less.
- Count the seats between you and the nearest exits in case smoke fills the plane and you cannot see them.
- Have a sense of awareness.
- Practice opening your seatbelt a few times.
- You may think that it’s odd the flight attendants demonstrate how to buckle and un-buckle a seatbelt. The reason for this? In emergencies, where passengers and crew must evacuate, many travelers’ injuries are broken thumbs, snapping the bone when attempting to release their seatbelt by jamming the small extremity into the metal.
I’ve been lucky. I haven’t experienced any life threatening emergencies, just a couple of diversions due to weather or mechanical issues, and a few medical situations. Once, on a trip, we were about to land, at less than 2500 feet, and the Captain informed us that we needed to be prepared to evacuate due to a possible fire in one of the cargo bins. Sitting in my jumpseat, in a disconnected, unemotional way, I could only think about how I REALLY didn’t want to pop the emergency slide that day. It was like when you were in school, and you had to study for that test or write the term paper. You knew you had to do it, you didn’t want to, but you just got it over with so you could move on. I knew that my job was to get the people off of the aircraft, that was what I had been trained to do, and this was going to be the time to do that. Thankfully, no evacuation was necessary and there was not a fire, but the experience was interesting for me, personally, because it gave a glimpse into how I could or would react in a situation of that nature.
Flying isn’t something to be scared of. There are risks with anything that you do. I was very close to getting hit by a car yesterday as I was riding my road bike, and had the impact happened, I probably would have gotten to meet the fire department, a couple of paramedics, and maybe a doctor or two (Not how I really want to meet that genre of good looking men…).
Life is not a predictable formula where you know to what end the outcome of a choice you make will lead.
In no way do I want to make light of the seriousness and sadness of fatal airplane crashes or accidents in general. They do happen, and people feel the ripple affect of the loss of loved ones for the rest of their lives. Thankfully, even with my flying family, I haven’t experienced losing someone I love in an accident, although a few months ago, my brother had a serious emergency that he somehow, miraculously, walked away from. He was lucky, and the event reminded me of the fragility of life. Life can change in seconds. Just two days ago, a friend of my brothers, with over 20 years of aviation experience, died in an ultralight crash. There wasn’t anything that he could have done to survive that crash. Some accidents are, unfortunately, unsurvivable.
When I was in Iceland, I chose to ride on the back of a motorcycle, driven by an Icelandic guy, speeding along a road at up to 220km per hour, and I wondered if the choice that I had made was wise. Maybe not, but I didn’t wish, and I didn’t want to be anywhere else. If my end was to be on the back of a motorcycle, then I was ok with that because I was doing what I loved; traveling, experiencing something new, meeting new people, and making new memories. All experiences that required me to take a little bit of calculated risk.
I embrace this from what my life was a couple of years ago. I am now smiling with a genuine joy.
So, here I am, still around to write motorcycle diaries and plane crazy moments. Just accept you’ll be stuck hearing a few more stories of the flight attendant life.
That’s the genuine smile:) I want those moments.
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