The majority of individuals do not think about what to do if the plane crashes while they are onboard. That is, with the exception of the standard procedures that the stewardess addresses before takeoff. So, what does one do after they’ve put on their oxygen mask, followed the lights to the exit signs, slid down the inflatable ramp and/or used their seat as a floatation device?
After an emergency landing, the main priority is to get away from the aircraft. The aircraft could catch fire or blow up so it is important to get as far away from this type of potential disaster. If it is possible to reach the emergency supplies and equipment then those should be taken you. Try not to panic and stay focused, moving quickly to get clear of the plane.
When everyone is clear from the aircraft, do a headcount to make sure that everyone is safe. If a passenger or passengers are missing then do not go back to the aircraft immediately. Do not go back onto the aircraft until it is positively deemed to be safe.
Now, passengers do not normally take their own personal emergency kits on board. However, the aircraft should have emergency supplies and equipment. Assuming that you only have the basic supplies and very minimal survival skills, here is a rundown of what to do in this type of situation.
Priority #1: Medical
The first priority should be treating anyone that is injured. There are things you can do with minimal skills such as stopping any bleeding, immobilization broken bones, treating shock, and generally stabilizing the individual. The main thing is to stay calm and focuses.
Priority #2: S.T.O.P
Take a deep breath, sit down if able to do so and stay calm. You must now focus on the situation at hand. Think first before doing anything. Additional injuries or mistakes made from not thinking things through can hinder your situation further. Observe your surroundings; assess the situation and what your options are. What supplies and equipment do you have available and what are the capabilities of the other passengers? Finally, prioritize the immediate needs and create a plan to deal with the emergency and contingencies at hand. Follow through on the plan and adjust when necessary depending on the circumstances.
Priority 3#: Find Shelter
The fact is you could be stranded for awhile so you should seek shelter. Depending on where you are stranded, the elements could be quite harsh so shelter will be necessary to keep you safe, dry, and/or warm. Shelter is vital to your safety. In extreme temperatures, shelter can mean the difference in staying alive.
Do not automatically think that you are going to die. The fact is, you can make it if take certain steps to ensure your survival. The basic fundamentals of survival are 1) maintain a body temperature of around 98.6 degrees, conserve your energy, and drink plenty of water.
The situation is not going to be ideal by any means and you will need to improvise in order to stay alive. Think about the things located in your surroundings that can help you to survive. What is available on the aircraft? What type of surroundings are you in and what can you use?
There are five rules to improvising:
1. Figure out what is needed.
2. Determine what you have on hand as far as materials and supplies.
3. What are the alternatives?
4. Select the best alternative.
Priority #4: Drawing Attention to the Situation
One you have gotten the essentials out of the way, it is time to think about getting rescued. Chances are you will not be able to contact anyone by phone. If the emergency locator transmitter is in working order on the aircraft then this is your best means of getting rescued. If the comm. is working then try this as well. Other things you can do are as follows:
Use a mirror to signal your location by deflecting light from the sun. You can also do this by using a piece of metal, foil, or other shiny object.
Flares. Although flares can only be used once so save them until you are sure that it is likely to be seen.
A whistle can be heard up to 7 miles so if someone is close by and the terrain is right, there is a chance someone could hear you.
Ground signals such as a “v”, “x”, or “SOS” can be used by constructing the letters out of brightly colored material, branches, rocks, etc.
Flag or material. Do not try signaling with your arms as this would be near impossible to see. Try to find a flag or piece of material that you can wave in the air to signal your position.A smoke signal can be used by creating a fire. Black smoke is best because it is less likely to be confused as a campfire. To create black smoke, you will need to use items such as green branches, leave, tires, engine oil, and like materials. If you are able to light three fires, even better as that is an internationally known distress signal.
Priority #5: Creating a fire to be used for heat and cooking.
Priority #6: Water
People can survive a long time without food but water is essential to survive just a few days. Do not drink urine because it will speed up the dehydration process. Alcohol is also a bad choice because it will lower your body temperature and cause other problems. The same is true for smoking!
It is important to try to drink at least four to six quarts of water per day. If your urine becomes dark then that is a good sign of dehydration. If clean water is not readily available then you can take advantage of your surroundings and use things like dew from plants or snow (if applicable). Snow or ice will lower your body temperature though so it should be melted down before consuming it. You can also look for valleys and cliffs or even animal tracks which may lead to water. If you find water that is not clean then you will need to purify it by boiling it. If you have no way to purify it then don’t be afraid to drink it. Better to drink it than to die of dehydration.
Priority #7: Food
Food is the last priority because an individual can survive quite awhile without food if they are at least drinking water. If you do have food but very little water then don’t eat. Food will take essential water from your body to digest.
If you find food in the wild but are unsure if it is safe then don’t eat it. Avoid odd looking plants and green berries, mushrooms, bulb roots, and fruits from plants with shiny leaves. To test whether or not a plant is safe, you can rub it on a sensitive part of your body (inside wrist). If you do not have an adverse reaction then try chewing a small amount for about 5 minutes to see if any reaction occurs. If not, it is safe to eat. However, do not swallow while you are testing it and wait 8 hours before eating a small handful. If there is still no reaction then wait another eight hours before eating anymore. Fish is also a viable option if they are available and if you can catch them.
Do not five up and stay with the aircraft. If you leave the aircraft you will have a less likely chance of being rescued. Remember, people will know that you are missing so there is hope that you will be found so don’t give up.