Although you may want to be comfortable or professional-looking on a flight, sandals or high heels make it hard to move quickly within the wreckage. High heels are not allowed on the evacuation slides and you can cut your feet and toes on glass or get flammable liquids on or in your sandals if you wear them.
The key to survive a crash is frequently how quickly you can get out. To this end, it’s best to get seats as close as possible to an exit, and aisle seats are generally preferable. In addition, try to sit in the back of the plane. Passengers in the tail of the aircraft have 40% higher survival rates than those in the first few rows.
Read the safety information card and pay attention to the pre-flight safety speech.
If the plane is going to crash, you almost always have several minutes to prepare before impact. Use this time to once again review where the exits are, and try to count the number of seats between your row and the exit row—that way you’ll know when you’ve reached the exit even if you can’t see it.
Assess the situation as well as possible. Try to determine what surface the plane will land on so you can customize your preparations. If you’re going to be landing in water, for example, you’ll want to put your life vest on—don’t inflate it until you’re out of the plane—and if you’re going to be landing in cold weather, you should try to get a blanket or jacket to keep you warm once outside.
Don’t assume you know it all already. Every type of airplane has different safety instructions. If you're sitting in an exit row, study the door and make sure you know how to open it if you need to. In normal circumstances the flight attendant will open the door, but if they are dead or injured, you'll need to do it.
In any case, make sure it is placed around you snugly before impact. Also, push that snug seat belt down as low over your pelvis as possible. The pelvis is a very strong structure that handles force well. If your belt slides up into your stomach, you have a greater chance of sustaining dangerous internal injuries.
If you know you’re going to crash, brace yourself. Return your seat back to its full upright position, bend forward and put your chest on your thighs and your head between your knees. Cross your wrists in front of your lower calves, and grab your ankles. Place your legs as far under the seat as possible to avoid breaking your shin bones.
It can be easy to get swept up in the pandemonium immediately preceding and following a crash. Keep a cool head, though, and you’re more likely to get out alive. Remember that even in the worst wrecks, you do have a chance of survival. You’ll need to be able to think methodically and rationally to maximize that chance.
You’ve probably heard this on every commercial flight you’ve been on, but it’s worth repeating. If the integrity of the cabin is compromised, you have only about 15 seconds to start breathing through your oxygen mask before you are rendered unconscious.
Fire and, more commonly, smoke is responsible for a large percentage of crash fatalities. The smoke in an airplane fire can be very thick and highly toxic, so cover your nose and mouth with a cloth to avoid breathing it in.
It’s critical to get out of the aircraft without delay—if fire or smoke is present, you will generally have less than two minutes to safely exit the plane.
If you’re stranded in a remote area, the best thing to do usually is to stay close to the aircraft to await rescuers. You don’t want to be too close, though. Fire or explosion can happen at any time after a crash, so put some distance between you and the plane.