Friday, September 16, 2011

How to Evacuate an Airplane

"A hundred years ago, it could take you the better part of a year to get from New York to California; whereas today, because of equipment problems at O’Hare, you can't get there at all."
~ Dave Barry (Only Travel Guide you'll ever need)
Earlier this week, a United Airlines flight at Dulles International in Washington, DC had to be evacuated when passengers saw smoke. Everyone quickly left the plane via the the inflatable slides including Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. A reporter on board wrote, "Hearing of possible broken bones, from the slide landing, but no other serious injuries."

Slides were fun when we were kids but an airplane slide is serious and can be dangerous. A government study of airline evacuation drills in the 1970s and 1980s found that almost 5 percent of the participants get hurt. The slides are designed to handle 70 passengers a minute so that means you have less than one second to go out the door. So here's some advice:
  1. Get out fast – DO NOT grab your luggage.
  2. JUMP onto the slide. Don’t hesitate at the doorway or try to sit down. JUMP.
  3. Keep your arms crossed over your chest as you go down the slide on your back. This will help prevent skin burns as you slide.
  4. Get out of the way! When you reach the bottom of the slide – MOVE quickly. Another person is just one second behind you and will crash into you if you don’t move quickly off the slide.
Bottom Line

Keep in mind two things:
1. Move quickly - jump on, get off fast.
2. This is not a slow ride down on your butt. It's a fast ride down on your back.

The second leading cause of injury is broken ankles and leg bones at the bottom of the slide. Be prepared to hit the ground by having both feet ready and your legs tensed but not locked and rigid. Be a stiff spring and let your knees bend and absorb the force with your leg muscles as you resist the impact. Picture how your legs work when you land from a jump or fall. The slide is a controlled fall and you'll land with nearly as much force as if you had jumped out of the plane without a slide.

To the degree that the slide does slow your fall and lessen the impact, that slowing is caused by friction and "slide burns" from friction are the leading injury from evacuations. Always wear long pants when you fly. Never shorts or a short skirt.

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