You're on an airplane waiting to leave the gate. After settling into your cramped seat, you start a podcast only to be interrupted by a flight attendant holding up life vests and oxygen masks. "What's the point," you sigh to yourself. "If this plane goes down, then we're all dead anyway." You replace your earbuds and close your eyes.
But wait — maybe you should be paying a bit more attention. The survival rate in plane accidents is actually about 95.7 percent, meaning the odds are on your side, especially if you know what to do [source: NTSB].
Take Josh Peltz, a passenger on US Airways Flight 1549, which crashed into the Hudson River on Jan. 15, 2009. Seated in the exit row, Josh used the chaotic moments before impact to brush up on how to open the exit door. After hitting the water, he jumped into action, swiftly opening the door and preventing a pileup of people behind him [source: Northedge].
Aside from noting instructions printed on the plane and delivered by the flight attendant, there are other ways to improve your chances of survival. Try to sit within five rows of an emergency exit and keep your shoes on during takeoff and landing. This should help you escape quickly and safely: Most crash survivors evacuate in less than 90 seconds [source: Sherwood].
And if that doesn't make you feel better, remember: Your chance of dying in a plane crash is only 1 in 90 million! [source: Sherwood]
Author's Note: 10 Pieces of Disaster Safety Advice You Should Ignore
Writing this article led me to reflect on my own experience with disaster. When I was just 5 years old, my family and I huddled in the hallway as a tornado threatened our home in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Luckily, it hopped over us, but nearby neighborhoods were not so lucky. I remember obsessively watching the weather reports for years after this encounter. Certainly, my fear has diminished with age, thanks in no small part to a greater understanding of disasters and how to prepare for them. And yet, in researching this piece I learned even more comforting disaster safety advice. Now I know not to touch any metal on my car during a lightning storm, and not to seek shelter in a doorway for an earthquake. I don't know about you, but I'm feeling better already.
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