Thursday, February 16, 2006

Thirty Seconds to Live

This post will contain real advice that you will probably never need.

I have no fear of flying in large commercial aircraft. I do, however, give up all sense of personal responsibility for my own death in a crash. Consciously give this up. "Hey, nuthin' I can do, might as well enjoy the flight."

I love Alaska Airlines.

Their seats are slightly bigger (anything is helpful when you are wider than both Olsen twins sitting side by side). And they have an excellent safety record.

And air travel is very safe.

I'm not worried about terrorists because after September 11th if a swarthy guy like would raise his hand quickly and give a quick informal salutation to my cousin aboard a plane ("Hi Jack!") I know that the following would happen:

1. The flight attendants would unleash their various forms of Ninja fighting skills on my pudgy ass (I hear that if you twist those lemon scented moist towels given to first class passengers, you could put someone's eye out with a quick snap!)

2. The pilot and the first officer will whip out their Glocks or Sig Sauers or spearguns or whatever and start blasting away with one hand while using the other to steer the plane into a barrel-roll to knock me off balance.

3. The passengers would split into two groups. The first would step all over themselves in an attempt to step on my head. The second would remember Pennsylvania and rush the cabin to force the plane to crash into a field so I couldn’t crash into a big building.

For this reason I usually give my cousin a "guy nod," or maybe a "how ya doin'?" Can't be too careful.

But back to the point of this post:

In the unlikely event that the airliner you are on actually crashes you must resign yourself to not surviving it. Augering into the ground at however many miles an hour encased in a big aluminum tube which is also at least partially filled with fuel is inherently dangerous.

But here's where your not so creepy Uncle Eric wants to give you some real advice. If you are aboard a plane which crashes but is essentially intact: GET OFF THE PLANE IMMEDIATELY!

By immediately I mean 30 seconds. No time to grab your laptop bag, your purse, your souvenir black velvet paintings, etc. Instead, grab your spouse and your children and get out. If you have more children than parents then you need to assign a bigger one to keep track of a littler one. Preferably figure out ahead of time which of you will be able to physically drag each other easiest. There will not be time for a lot of negotiation. If you can dress the kids in clothing which includes a climbing harness with a place on the front and back which can be used as a handle, that's better.

I guess I should mention that you should not follow Uncle Eric's advice if you land safely after some scary turbulence and are just taxiing up to the jetway like usual. These are instructions for when the sierra hits the foxtrot.

Indicators: the plane has stopped moving and either b) there is smoke in the cabin or c) you find yourself upside down still buckled into your seat.

It will probably never happen to you but if it does, remember: When the plane comes to a complete stop you have 30 seconds. If someone in front of you is trying to pick up a piece of luggage or is obstructing your way, move them bodily out of your way.

If you plan it right you will not be behind very many people because you've followed two simple rules ahead of time:

1. No matter how boring the "emergency landing procedures" lecture is, it's a great time to find your nearest exits, both in front of you and behind you. COUNT SEATS to each. REMEMBER that number for the duration of your flight. If the cabin is filled with smoke and upset people, you'll want to be able to quickly count each seat-rest and then you'll be in the exit row.

2. Pay attention to how to open the emergency doors. I'm not saying you need to get up and try handles, folks, or you'll get a nasty lemon scented smack in the eye. I'm saying to read the little pamphlet and look at the door to see if the instructions match. There should not be a big list of instructions (after all they are meant to be able to be opened quickly) but knowing ahead of time the difference between PUSH and PULL or CLOCKWISE and COUNTER CLOCKWISE will be helpful.

So there you go. If you survive the initial impact and follow these two rules then you and your family will be among the first off of the plane and therefore much more likely to be able to send me an email thanking me.

(See those little people running away from the plane, farthest from the wings - where the fuel is - that'll be me and mine, thank you very much. Those folks still on the slides are the folks I pushed out of my way.)

Happy Flying!





The Catapillar said...

Great Advice!!! I am terrified of flying (I'll do it if I have to but I hate it). I will make sure to follow your advice to the letter :)...

IvoryValentine said...

Hilarious! But what happens in the event of a water landing/crashing? Does Unlce Eric have any specifics on that?

Eric said...

Catapillar: really, flying is extremely safe.

IV: Excellent question! Living in Alaska I just assumed that if you land in the water you are FTD. Hypothermia will render you unable to swim in a matter of minutes.

But by all means, get out of the cabin, even in warm water. See next month's advice: how to not get eaten by sharks :-)

John Cowart said...

I'd rather not fly than crash.

Plunky said...

Eric, love it, love it. I watched 20/20 or something that told me to count the rows to the emergency exits(as you may not be able to see due to smoke). I didn't know to read how the door worked though! Fab! I fly across the country in two weeks!

smussyolay said...

what is prompting this post?? curious.

Eric said...

John: really, it's safe. You're more likely to get hit by lightning.

Deb- Have a fun trip!

Smuss- one of them random things. UBI's : useless bits of information. That and I have had to do more background on two stories I'm working on already, so they are not postable yet. Ch-yeah, I research and fact-check, no kidding.

Like I'm getting paid for this or someink.

Deb said...

I'll take it under advisement - I'm flying to BOS in a couple weeks. No water landings possible, hopefully.

Scottage said...

Great site! I hope I can find you again!

Jas said...

It always is good advice to count the number of rows.

While flying on business trips, often back and forth some very inland areas in the midwest United States, it always made me cringe to hear the "In Air Customer Service Representatives" spout their spiel which included...

"In the event of a water landing....."

Hello?! If I fly from Salt Lake City to central Ohio, I'm not imagining too much of a water landing, I hope!

Angela said...

You know, the second time I ever flew was post 9-11. I was the only passenger on the plane from Maine to NY. The lone stewardess explained the emergency procedures and kept reiterating that I'd better listen up, and soak it all in.. because if anything happened - I'd have to save myself. Fackin' scary!

Black Eyed Gurl said...

Brilliant!!! I'm going to print this out and keep it forever! Unless it's winter I don't have to worry too much about freezing to death in the water. But now I am worried about shark possibilities (although I am rarely near oceans, what with being in the mid-west and all), so I look forward to Eric's survival guide!!

rockyjay said...

The survival rate is better when you jump from the plane WITHOUT a paraschute, than go down and crash.

I think an option to jump out of the plane should be given to passengers. I'd take those odds.

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