I had a really enjoyable and educational (and possibly life saving) afternoon with a couple of colleagues at a Flight Safety Awareness course earlier this week at the BA training grounds. The course has been developed for companies who are conscious of Health and Safety and who want to do what they can to keep their personnel safe whilst travelling.
We were given the opportunity to experience a simulated aircraft emergency on a full motion cabin simulator, followed by a debrief packed full of safety advice, information and techniques (and judging by the video taken of me attempting to get down the emergency slide you will note that my technique would have ensured that the entire plane full of people would have died whilst waiting for me to leave the aircraft)
The team teaching us were very impressive with a great sense of humour to add to the mix and they carefully explained right at the beginning that obviously all this preparation is “in the highly unlikely event of an emergency” and nothing to really worry about. It’s just good to be prepared and I learnt so much I thought I’d share it with you guys. To be honest I think everyone who ever flies should have this training and I also think it should be offered to young adults and even children. When I talked my children through the hotel fire drill and asked “what do you think is the most important thing to take with you from your hotel room in a fire?” My 12 year old said “soap”. Which frankly wouldn’t get him very far – even if he was clean.
All my mother said on hearing I was off to do this course was “make sure you’re wearing the right knickers when you go down the evacuation slide or you’ll get a wedgy”. She was right.
NB: A few of their points are not for the faint hearted!
We were on a simulated flight on a full motion Boeing 737 which suddenly started filling with smoke. We were advised to get into the brace position and then evacuate. We were then shown how to open the emergency door and overwing exits before being brought back to discuss what we did wrong!
KEY POINTS TO NOTE WHEN FLYING
Safest part of plane = no difference and depends on situation
Safest seat = rear facing and I understand that BA do offer customers the opportunity to prebook seats in Club World, a number of their customers will be able to do this free of charge or others will have the opportunity to pay for their seating. This way should the
customer wish to sit in a rearward facing seat they will be able to do so and they can prebook them and they have subsequently advised me that you can find all the details you need on this link:-
90 second industry standard for evacuating a plane
Owing to latest technology mid air crashes very rare now
Always travel in flat shoes and don’t take your shoes off until fully airborne – if you have to go down the emergency slide some people take laptops and duty free bottles so generally broken glass etc at the bottom
Always watch the safety demonstration and check out where the exits are.
Count how many seats you are away from the exits in case you can’t see anything.
Always check that your life jacket is underneath your seat (or to the side if you are in business class) and that you can open and close the packaging, Velcro etc – it is sometimes the case that the life jacket has been stolen so not there.
If you’re travelling with children or new travellers get them to practice undoing their seatbelt (muscle memory – as it was noted that in certain cases where the plane has crashed injuries show that some passengers died because they couldn’t undo their seatbelt as they were frantically trying to unlock it as in a car – ie to the side).
Red lights on the floor indicate the exits
They REALLY shout at you to get into the brace position if it’s required. For a long time. Lean forward to rest your head on seat in front. Hold your stronger hand flat against the top of your head and the weaker one on top (to protect your strong hand in case items fall on them – if you link your fingers together and a bag falls then all fingers are immediately broken and you can’t undo your seatbelt and get out). Elbows to the sides so don’t dig into legs, feet flat on ground but tucked as far back as possible.
Very rare that the window, manual emergency exits to the sides are useful as you can only get one person out compared to eight at the same time of the main door. The exit is small and difficult to reach and also you will be jumping on to the wing where the fuel is. So before opening always look out for hazards. To open you need to lean quite far back to avoid it hitting you on the head before pulling it in and twisting it at the same time. It’s really heavy!
Opening the main door is much easier but try not to be the first one to do that in case you fall out before the evacuation slide has inflated.
Jumping down the slide you are meant to cross your arms across your chest and the “knicker grip” at end slows you right down so that you can generally land on your feet (unless it’s water obviously)
Specifically refers to an emergency landing on water
Never inflate your life jackets in the aircraft (death can occur if the aircraft floods as those who have them on can get stuck to the roof of the plane)
Hudson river landing perfect example of a successful ditching – caused by a flock of geese getting stuck in both engines and in the USA now it is customary practice not to demonstrate the life jackets if it’s a short haul flight – so always check it’s there.
Keep seatbelt on as if cabin depressurises the plane has to drop like a stone.
Generally it will happen because a window has been sucked out (but could be something hostile) – you will hear a very loud bang and then a lot of very loud noise.
The temperature will drop rapidly and there will be a white misting which is water vapour from the clouds as the air is squeezed and sucked from the body
Put oxygen mask on ASAP – you have generally approximately 20 seconds (unless you’re a smoker – which can bring it down to 4 seconds!!) before hypoxia sets in – which will make you feel euphoric and chilled out and you won’t care about putting on your mask and then you will become unconscious
The plane needs to drop to about 10K feet so depending whether you are flying over the Himalayas and therefore can’t drop immediately you could be in this situation for up to 20 minutes or more.
Pressure will hurt your ears and sinuses as well as gas/liquid escapes from all orifices (yuk – but just to be forewarned!)
All you can do is manage the situation and stay calm – it is scary but manageable.
This is the most serious as we could only manage three lungfulls of toxic fumes
Stay low and don’t run around causing the smoke to move more quickly
Again – if you see smoke shout very loudly and alert all the passengers around you as well as the crew
In case of a hotel fire – these are the points they suggest you note:-
Stay four floors or below otherwise they can’t reach you with a ladder and going down the stairs may take to long
Always check the fire plan on your door for fire exits.
Always walk down the fire escape and check the door works at the bottom and that the route is clear (this should of course set off the fire alarm which BA doesn’t think is a problem – they suggest you advise the staff that you are going to try out the escape route so that they can be aware).
Also count the number of doors and note where you are if you are trying to escape in the dark
Generally if the alarm goes off it will be the middle of the night, so you need to know where everything is in case of power cut
Put your clothes on and make sure you’re wearing shoes as don’t want to go through burning coals. Take a wet towel to breath into, your phone, passport and most importantly your room key. If you leave your room only to find your way blocked by fire then you will have to go back to your room and if you don’t have the key then there is nowhere for you to go.
ALWAYS therefore make sure before you go to sleep that your shoes are next to you and your phone, keys, passport are all in your shoes so that you can find what you need in the darkIf you’re stuck in your room, put wet towels under doors and ventilation. Turn on taps and leave them running, fill utensils and throw water all over carpet – saturate as much as you can (check first this isn’t a practice fire alarm!)
Call the emergency services which is 112 – not quite global yet, but nearly
Use a flashlight, your phone or a white sheet or towel out of the window to attract attention
Hope it hasn’t put you off travelling altogether!!
Here, for your amusement is my attempt to get down the emergency slide. Frankly pathetic. The next one we did we actually had to jump off which made me a little faster, but not much. Loving the red suit.