Southwest Airlines’ emergency landing is a poignant reminder of what passengers need to know about airline safety. An aircraft en route to Dallas from New York landed in Philadephia after the explosion of one of its engines.Preliminary reports indicate the crew acted professionally and avoided a more significant scale disaster. Sadly a woman onboard did die from sustained injuries.
However, the incident revealed another disturbing problem. Judging by the pictures showing passengers with oxygen masks covering only their mouths it is clear that quite a few don’t know what to do when faced with an emergency. The situation can become more complicated for parents traveling with younger or special needs kids who cant take care of themselves and might need assistance.
So, for parents wishing to brush up on flight safety basics here are our nine airline safety tips to practice with kids.
#1 Listen Up!
Since planes differ in configuration from airline to airline, it is helpful to be reminded by the crew where all the exits are.Furthermore, you should make a mental note of the number of rows between you and the closest exit. Knowing how many rows to pass on your way to the nearest exit may be useful in case the cabin is filled with smoke.
Also, take a moment and read the manual supplied by the airline. It explains how to open the airplane door if you need to as well as how to use the slides in case of a water landing.
#2 Ditch the Headphones
During flights, headphones can help you, and your kids relax. However, in case of an emergency, the headphones can also hinder your understanding of what is happening around you.
So, if and when there’s an emergency teach your kids to remove the headphones immediately. By doing so, they will be able to hear essential crew announcements as well as communicate with family and fellow passengers.
#3 Use the Oxygen Masks
Modern planes are equipped with a smart system that keeps cabin pressure at a level equivalent to an altitude of 5,000-8,000 feet at all times. This system enables aircraft to fly at high altitudes where the oxygen is thin with no risk to those on board.
But once that cabin is depressurized, you need oxygen. Hence wearing a mask becomes a necessity! If you opt not to wear a mask, you will pass out sooner than later. Other symptoms include euphoria, nausea, headaches, and even death.
When placing the mask over your face make sure that it covers both breathing portals your nose AND mouth. After your mask is secured, you can help your kids or fellow passengers.
#4 Keep the Mask on
In the chaos of the moment, some people may panic when they don’t see their mask bag inflate. What they don’t know is that airline masks work differently than oxygen tanks.
Above every airline seat, there’s a compartment that contains a mix of chemicals that releases oxygen when activated. In fact, there’s enough mix to give each passenger a steady oxygen supply until the plane reaches a lower altitude.e.
To start the process all you need to tug on the mask tab. The vital point to remember is you will still get oxygen via your mask whether the bag inflates or not.
#5 Expect Sharp Descent
When the plane experiences an emergency it will have to prepare for a quick landing. So, the plane will need to drop its altitude fast which will entail some sharp drops.
To help alleviate the stress for your kids and yourself it is helpful to trust and listen to instructions. Keep in mind that the highly trained crew is following airline emergency protocol. and is doing everything possible to keep you safe
#6 Know the ‘Brace Position’
#7 Wear your Shoes
Feeling comfortable on flights is a challenge for most passengers, so it is no surprise many chose to take off their shoes. Yet in the case of an emergency, unprotected feet and toes can get injured by debris or sharp objects.
The best solution is to wear comfortable shoes and keep them on for the duration of the flight. But if that isn’t an option then at least wear a pair of thick cotton socks to protect your feet from potential injuries.
#8 Carry an ID
In the aftermath of an emergency, you might be separated from your kids, so it is a good idea to keep your ID card or passport handy. This can help authorities identify you faster.
Furthermore, when you are traveling with young or nonverbal kids place a card or safety patch with their names and your cell number in their pockets. This way you can be contacted immediately and not worry about them.
#9 Leave Belongings Behind
This last one can be a tough sell for many kids as well as some adults. Airlines instruct passengers not to move any bags or open any overhead bins. In fact, these bags can become obstacles in the path of fellow passengers or worse damage the emergency slides.
Since emergencies can happen anywhere and at any time teaching kids how to behave in these circumstances can be a lifesaver. Depending on their kids’ level of understanding parents should emphasize that lives are more important than any possessions. So, whether it is a plane crash or house fire kids, it is critical to get out as fast as possible and not worry about their stuffed animals or electronics.
Autism Travel Tips
- Parents need to teach kids to be quiet during the in-flight demonstration so everyone can listen to the instructions given.
- Have a curious kid who wants to know more about the topic? Youtube has some great videos from the different airlines.Our favorite is Air New Zealand ‘s featuring the Hobbit flight safety can watch in-flight demonstration videos on youtube.
- Getting children with sensory issues to wear a mask can be tricky. Parents can acclimate kids to wear masks by practicing at home with party masks.
- The BRACE position can be awkward for those with coordination challenges. To help kids understand the position better parents can practice the necessary motions at home.