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How to Survive an Airplane Crash

In the unlikely event you're ever in a plane crash, these tips will dramatically improve your odds of walking away from it alive.


  • Step 1: Book a good seat Book a seat in the exit row or within five rows of it. People in those seats have the highest survival rates.
  • TIP: Aisle seats are safer than windows seats, unless you're sitting next to an exit door.
  • Step 2: Dress for escape Wear pants and a long-sleeved shirt made of non-flammable material, like denim or cotton, and flat, sturdy, closed-toe shoes. You want clothes that don't restrict movement, but also offer some protection from flames, flying debris, and the elements.
  • Step 3: Bring a smoke hood Bring a smoke hood, or even just a wet washcloth sealed in a plastic bag. Most crash victims survive impact, but die of smoke inhalation.
  • TIP: If you don't have a smoke hood or wet cloth, breathe through your clothing.
  • Step 4: Memorize the layout Once aboard, count the seats between you and the nearest front and rear emergency exit. You want to be able to feel your way should the cabin fill with smoke. Note where the flight attendants sit, so you'll know where to turn for instructions.
  • Step 5: Brace yourself When instructed, brace yourself for an emergency landing. With your feet on the floor, cross your arms on the seat in front of you and lower your head onto them. If there is no seat in front, hug your knees. Try to remain that way until the plane comes to a complete stop.
  • TIP: Remove any sharp objects from your shirt and pants. If you wear glasses, take them off.
  • Step 6: Know how to undo your seatbelt It may sound stupid, but remind yourself that airplane seat belts open by lifting a buckle, not pushing a button. Research shows that many flyers forget this when they're panicked, delaying their exit.
  • Step 7: Stoop, don't crawl If the cabin fills with smoke, forget what you learned about staying close to the floor in a fire. In a commercial jetliner, you want to stoop, not crawl. You'll still get air, but you won't run the risk of being trampled.
  • TIP: Exit the plane immediately and find your loved ones outside. Trying to find them inside will delay everyone, including those you're trying to help.
  • Step 8: Run like heck Once off the plane, run for your life -- literally. You want to get away from the plane in case it explodes.
  • FACT: Research shows that passengers who sit near the back of the plane are 40% more likely to survive a crash than those in the first few rows.

You Will Need

  • An aisle seat
  • or one close to it
  • Long-sleeved pants and top
  • and flat closed-toe shoes
  • A smoke hood or a wet washcloth

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