7 Dos and Don’ts For Staying Safe on Airplanes

by Shelli

You may have to go back a ways in your memory bank to answer this question because flying during the past few months isn’t something most of us have done. So think back. Did you watch the safety video the last time you flew? Answer honestly.

I’ll admit to having gazed out the window to watch the ground crew rather than paying attention to the video. Actually, the last time I flew it wasn’t a video but rather the crew going through the safety procedures. Nope, didn’t pay attention at all.

Even if you’re one of the 50% of flyers estimated to actually watch the videos, it’s also estimated you forgot most of what you saw soon after watching. Our attention and retention spans ain’t what they used to be.

Safety Videos Are Shown For Good Reasons

My recent interest in airline safety instructions came about because my nephew’s teenage son took a flight by himself. First time without his parents! Being a curious kid, he asked his father about the videos. My nephew, being smart about evading difficult questions from teenagers replied, “Let’s ask your aunt. She’s the traveler in the family!” Imagine my surprise when the “traveler in the family” couldn’t actually offer anything but educated guesses as to why we were told dos and don’ts in safety videos 🙂

But maybe I’m being too hard on us all. Perhaps we aren’t as knowledgeable as we think we are about WHY these safety precautions and guidelines are necessary. Maybe if we knew the reasons why we’d pay more attention. I know I’m someone who when I know the WHY of something, especially dos and don’ts, I’ll follow along.

Let’s dig in to these airline safety videos to understand more about why paying attention to them is important.

Seven Airline Safety Videos Dos and Don’ts

Be Careful When Opening the Overhead Compartment

Items we stow above in the compartments do shift in flight. This may seem obvious, but when tired or in a rush we easily forget this. I always duck away when someone opens the overhead bin. Maybe you’ve observed, as I have, passengers who stow items in ways that you just know whoever opens the compartment next is getting zonked on the head by that item. And that’s before the shift even happens.

Unlock Your Seat Belt By Lifting Up On the Buckle

If you’re a Seinfeld fan you’ve likely heard him mock these instructions by comparing seat belts in a car to buckling up on airplanes. Take note though, next time you unbuckle your car seat belt.

We push DOWN on the seat belt to unbuckle. In a plane it’s exactly the opposite.

Given most of us are in cars way more than in planes, when people panic or rush in emergency situations, guess what they do? They push down on the buckle. May seem like a small thing but wasting time, even seconds, counts in emergencies.

Wear Your Shoes During Takeoff and Landing

Remember these are safety videos. Having your shoes off in an emergency means your feet will contact surfaces that can be super hot, slippery, or wet. Protecting your feet just in case makes safety sense.

delta a321 first class seat rendering

Raise Window Shades For Takeoff and Landing

This is one of my pet peeves. If it’s a safety precaution then why do I see it so rarely enforced? And what’s the protocol for when you’re not the one in the window seat and your seat mate doesn’t abide by this safety precaution?

In an emergency having the shades up during takeoff and landing enables the crew (and passengers) to observe whether it’s safer to evacuate from one side of the plane rather than the other. Seems to me like an essential piece of information to have!

Don’t Inflate Your Life Jacket Inside the Plane

If the cabin is flooded and you’ve inflated your life jacket, you’re at risk of being lifted towards the ceiling of the plane. This seems like a horrible mistake to make. Making it more difficult to evacuate is exactly the opposite of the dos and don’ts safety rules.

Keep Your Seat Belt Fastened Even When the Seat Belt Sign is On

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not great about following this airplane safety advice. I have flown in awful turbulence on both large and small planes and if my seat belt is off I’m quick to fasten it. But turbulence can come on quickly. During severe turbulence passengers do get thrown around and injured. Best not to risk hurting yourself or anyone else.

Fit Your Oxygen Mask Before Helping Others

Having oxygen is a must during emergencies. In an emergency and during compression, air gets sucked out of your lungs as well as the plane. Passengers have mere seconds before becoming unable to help themselves and others.

Final Thoughts

I’m rethinking my whole approach to these airline safety videos. Paying attention to them for the few minutes that it takes seems like a small price to pay. The expression “better safe than sorry” seems like it applies!

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DaninMCI September 10, 2020 - 4:42 am

Leaving my shoes on with my wallet, cell phone and passport in my pocket during takeoff and landing are my suggestions. No fumbling around. I think the seat belt deal could be overhauled much the way you have posed it. Just remind us to pull instead of push it and move on. I do like the Seinfeld bit on this but most folks are more like Ron White’s “scene of the crash” bit, attitude.

Shelli September 10, 2020 - 10:37 am

Good ideas, Dan, especially about the wallet/phone/passport. Thanks!


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