Survive the Skies: Your Ultimate Guide to Airplane Emergency Procedures

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Survive the Skies: Your Ultimate Guide to Airplane Emergency ProceduresTraveling by air can be both exciting and nerve-wracking, especially when you consider the possibility of an in-flight emergency. But don’t let fear hold you back! This comprehensive guide to airplane emergency procedures is your ticket to a safe and enjoyable flying experience.


  • Understanding airplane emergency procedures boosts your chances of survival
  • Keep calm and follow flight attendants’ instructions
  • Know the emergency exits and brace positions
  • Equip yourself with basic first aid knowledge
  • Learn how to handle emergency landings and water evacuations

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Why You Need to Know Airplane Emergency Procedures

Air travel is statistically one of the safest modes of transportation. According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the chances of surviving a plane crash are around 95.7%. However, being prepared for the unexpected is always a wise move. Knowing what to do in an emergency increases your odds of survival and can help you stay calm under pressure.

Stay Calm and Listen to the Pros

Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who famously landed US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River in 2009, once said, “The most important thing in an emergency landing is to keep calm and follow the instructions of the flight attendants.” Flight attendants are trained professionals who are there to guide you through any emergency situation.

Emergency Exits and Brace Positions: Know Your Way Out

Locate the emergency exits nearest to you, both in front and behind. Count the rows to the exits, so you know exactly where to go, even if visibility is low. Familiarize yourself with the different brace positions for various types of emergencies, as shown in the safety briefing and card.

Equip Yourself with Basic First Aid Knowledge

In-flight medical emergencies can happen, so it’s good to know some basic first aid. CPR, the Heimlich maneuver, and how to treat burns or cuts are essential skills that can come in handy, not just on a plane but in everyday life as well.

Handling Emergency Landings and Water Evacuations

Although rare, emergency landings and water evacuations may occur. Be prepared by:

  • Listening to the crew’s instructions carefully
  • Staying calm and focused
  • Bracing for impact using the recommended position
  • Leaving all personal belongings behind during evacuation
  • Using life vests or flotation devices if needed

Kevin’s Insider Tips for a Safe Flight

As an experienced travel journalist, I’ve picked up a few extra tips to ensure a safe flight:

  • Choose a seat close to the emergency exits for a quicker evacuation
  • Wear comfortable, non-synthetic clothes and sturdy shoes that won’t hinder movement
  • Keep a portable phone charger and a flashlight in your carry-on

Pre-Flight Preparation: The First Step to Safety

Before boarding your flight, take the time to prepare for any potential emergencies. Start by:

  • Checking your airline’s safety record and any advisories
  • Reviewing emergency procedures provided by the airline and FAA
  • Studying the layout of the specific aircraft you’ll be flying on

Carry-On Essentials for Emergencies

Packing a well-thought-out carry-on can make a difference in an emergency. Consider including the following items:

  • Essential medications and a basic first-aid kit
  • A compact, battery-powered or hand-cranked flashlight
  • A whistle to signal for help
  • Travel-size personal hygiene items (e.g., hand sanitizer, tissues, wet wipes)
  • A reusable water bottle to stay hydrated

Communicating in an Emergency: Stay Informed and Alert

During an emergency, communication is key. Stay informed and alert by:

  • Listening for announcements from the captain or crew
  • Watching for visual cues or hand signals from flight attendants
  • Observing fellow passengers for any indications of a developing situation

Supporting Fellow Passengers in Need

In a crisis, working together can increase everyone’s chances of survival. Offer assistance to fellow passengers if you are able to do so safely. This may include:

  • Helping others with their oxygen masks
  • Providing first aid or support if you have the necessary skills
  • Guiding passengers to the nearest exit or helping them assume the proper brace position
  • Comforting those who are anxious or scared

Post-Emergency: Navigating the Aftermath

Once an emergency has been resolved, it’s crucial to remain vigilant and follow instructions from the crew. Post-emergency actions may include:

  • Staying seated and waiting for further instructions
  • Assisting with cleanup or recovery efforts, if needed and requested
  • Providing information to authorities or airline personnel as necessary
  • Seeking support for any emotional or physical trauma experienced


What should I do if there’s a sudden loss of cabin pressure?

If the cabin pressure drops, oxygen masks will deploy from overhead compartments. Stay calm and remember the acronym “PASTE”:

  • Put on your own mask first
  • Adjust the straps for a snug fit
  • Sit down and remain seated
  • Take deep breaths and stay calm
  • Ensure others around you have their masks on

What if there’s a fire on the plane?

In case of a fire on the plane, follow these steps:

  • Alert a crew member immediately
  • Stay low to the ground if there’s smoke, as it rises
  • Follow the crew’s instructions for extinguishing the fire or evacuating the aircraft

What should I do if someone is acting suspiciously on the plane?

If you notice someone acting suspiciously or posing a threat, discretely inform a flight attendant. Don’t confront the person yourself, as it could escalate the situation. Trust the crew to handle it professionally.

How can I stay calm during an emergency?

Staying calm during an emergency can be challenging, but it’s crucial. Here are some tips:

  • Take deep, slow breaths to help reduce anxiety
  • Focus on the crew’s instructions and trust their expertise
  • Visualize a positive outcome to stay optimistic

Are there any apps or resources that can help me prepare for in-flight emergencies?

Yes, there are several apps and online resources available to help you prepare for in-flight emergencies. Some popular ones include:

  • AirSafe’s Emergency Procedures App
  • Red Cross First Aid App
  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) website for safety tips and regulations

Conclusion: Knowledge Is Your Safety Net

Air travel is incredibly safe, but being prepared for emergencies can make all the difference. By understanding airplane emergency procedures and staying calm during an emergency, you can enjoy your flight with peace of mind.


  1. National Transportation Safety Board. (n.d.). Accident Statistics. 
  2. Aviation Safety Network. (2020). ASN Aviation Safety Database. 
  3. FAA. (n.d.). Passengers: Safety Information. 

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