Fly, don’t die

Everyone dies. Some day it is bound to happen. No one who has ever lived has not not died. If they haven’t yet, they will some day.  But then nobody likes to die, not most people.  And under most circumstances, we don’t want others to die either.  Human deaths occurring due to an external event become news.  These events could be natural (hurricanes, earthquakes and the like) or man-made (war, guns, road accidents, plane crashes and the like).  If you die of an internal natural cause (cancer, old age, etc.), then the only way for your death to become news is if you are / were some sort of a celebrity.

Now humanity as a whole is very concerned about preventing different types of deaths occurring due to natural as well as unnatural causes.  We develop technology to predict earthquakes, hurricanes and tsunamis to allow for advance warnings and timely evacuations.  We spend our collective intellectual capital to research and find causes and cures for life threatening diseases.  We make laws and hope they will act as deterrent for careless or intended acts that lead to people dying.  When plane crashes happen, we spend a lot of energy to find out the cause to prevent a similar crash in future.

Talking about plane crashes. Each time you get on a plane, you hear the safety instructions that are announced as the plane taxis towards the runway.  Some airlines try to be innovative with their safety announcements and make them funny so people pay attention.  There is however one particular piece of information that they share which I believe deserves much emphasis.  When the air-hostesses demonstrate the usage of the life jacket – the one under your seat – they blurt out an important piece of advice without giving it the due importance it deserves.  In the event of an emergency water landing, they mention that the life jacket must be inflated ‘after’ exiting the aircraft.

The ‘after’ carries such a huge importance but it is just mentioned in a passing note. A childhood friend who is a pilot, recently told me that during an emergency water landing, the only people who die are those who get panicky and inflate their life jackets even before they have exited the aircraft.  The aircraft starts to fill with water, and if the life jacket is already inflated, buoyancy pushes you to the aircraft ceiling.  At that point, there is no way you can reach for the exit door pushing down against the force of water while wearing the life jacket which will most definitely cost you your life. I found more details on this post.

I hope the airlines make it a point to educate people about the reason that the life jacket must be inflated after exiting the aircraft and not before.  You don’t want it to become your death jacket.

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One Response to Fly, don’t die

  1. MS says:

    Technically called ‘ditching ‘ ( water landing of an airplane). Well explained. Just saw a video video of the Air India Kanishka Bombing, a 747 from Vancouver to Delhi blown up mid air in 1985. All onboard perished. Known or unknown death seems to find its way, like you said.
    Made me wonder how safe would be the driverless taxis of Uber in Pennsylvania.. When they actually become driverless that is. Fog, rain , snow, crazy drivers etc. Nature throws so many challenges and for a Concept Autopilot ( still under development) to perform remains to be seen.
    For years there has been talk of Pilotless planes . As of now not much breakthrough but surely may happen when we have advanced AI .
    Though it’s happened way back Certainly wish the economics of money doesn’t play with beauty of life.

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