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The dramatic incident of nearly two dozen people trying to rescue a passenger plane that crashed in Houston earlier this week has drawn renewed attention to the survivability of air disasters.

Despite the data from National Transportation Safety Board Showing that the likelihood of being involved in a fatal plane crash is very low, there are actions that passengers can take to further increase their chances of survival.


Here are four tips for surviving a plane crash.

1) Sit near the exit in case of a disaster because ‘every second counts’

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Professor Ed Gallia, a fire and evacuation specialist and founding director of the Fire Safety Engineering Group at the University of Greenwich in London – which researches the topic – told Granthshala News he would “try to get a seat closer to the exit” where As long as possible, preferably within nine seat rows of the exit” whenever he takes off.

“Generally speaking, there is no ‘safest’ seat on a plane during a crash. This is because every accident is different,” he said. “However, our research of past survivable aviation accidents shows that you have a higher chance of surviving a fatal accident if you’re sitting close to a usable exit.”

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“That’s because in an aviation accident, especially in a post-crash fire, every second counts, every second can literally mean the difference between life and death,” he said.

The FAA said a McDonnell Douglas MD-87 had rolled through a fence and caught fire at Houston Executive Airport.

2) Put on your shoes to prepare for the escape

A plane crash will scatter luggage and baggage throughout the cabin — and when that happens, you don’t want to be caught wearing just your socks, Gallia said.

“Keep your shoes on for takeoff and landing. If you must take off your shoes, wait until the plane reaches cruising altitude and make sure you put them back on before the plane takes off,” he adds said.

“As a result of the accident, the cabin of the aircraft is likely to be littered with debris, or worse, partially broken,” Gallia continued. “You don’t want to make your way out barefoot.”

3) Recognize that these seat belts are not exactly the same as your vehicle

Seat belts on planes serve a similar purpose to those found in motor vehicles, but a key difference is the way they lock and release.

Plain seat belts are released by pulling on the lever mechanism, whereas those used in vehicles are released with the press of a button. Remembering that during your flight can provide valuable time to avoid the gap, according to Gallia.

An empty airplane cabin interior.  Professor Ed Gallia recommends being aware of your surroundings before going to your seat during boarding.

“In an emergency, when your survival ‘flight’ mode instinct has begun and you are operating in ‘autopilot mode,’ it is easy to lose precious seconds as you mistake the seat belt lever to release the seat belt. Let’s try to suppress it – and every second counts,” he said.

“This type of behavior has actually been reported in past aviation accidents and has even occurred frequently to passengers,” he said, “because of having to operate a car seat belt hundreds of thousands of times in their lives, You have trained your brain to react like this.”

4) Be mindful of your surroundings while going to your seat

Gallia says that before takeoff, it’s best to count the number of seat rows you need to exit — and that distance too — if the plane’s cabin fills with smoke in the event of a crash.

“It can be hard for you to see the exit, even if it’s open, so you can walk/crawl behind it,” he said. “Even if you’re a frequent flier, it’s unlikely you’ll know the number and location of exits on the plane, let alone their location relative to your seating area.”