A rash of recent in-flight mishaps and emergency landings has reinforced the importance of paying attention to safety briefings and how to reach emergency exits as quickly as possible. While this is great news with respect to promoting aviation safety, it’s important to remember that we are more-vulnerable to being trapped in other places at any given point in time.
In fact, the odds of being trapped in buildings, buses or trains are exponentially-higher than having to evacuate an aircraft. Consequently, it’s more-important to be mindful of emergency exits in places where we are during the course of our daily lives.
Most buildings have evacuation procedures in place, and little maps are posted next to doors and in halls that tell us how to get out in an emergency. However, after glancing at it for a second or two, do you think that you could remember the path to safety if you were forced to run out the door with no warning? Probably not, and most of us would be just as clueless.
Yet, how many of us actually take time to study the route, walk it through, and think about any potential obstacles or barriers that may be encountered along the way? How many of us look for alternates if this route becomes impassable? These are simple exercises that don’t take a lot of time to go through, yet few people tend to pay very little attention to them. This is especially true when compared to the mental-mapping that we do on airplanes.
Buses and Trains
We can say the same about buses and trains. How many of us know how to open up windows, doors or escape hatches in an emergency? How many of us know about evacuation procedures on trains? All of these things are clearly labeled so that all passengers can see them, but how many really pay attention? More buses and trains are in serious accidents than planes each year, yet we pay little attention to how to evacuate from them.
Cars and Trucks
How would you break out of your car if it was sinking in water or on fire? How could you escape if it’s a mangled mess following an accident? While there are a number of techniques that are very easy to use and remember, few motorists know they exist. Yet chances are that they know how to open up an emergency exit window next to the seat with extra-legroom they purchased.
Remember that seconds count during any emergency evacuation, and knowing how to escape will significantly increase the odds of your survival, as well as the survival of others. While air disasters are sensational and have an uncanny way of captivating the fears of the public at large, they actually represent the smallest risk that we face.
Make sure that you take time to study escape routes and explore alternates. If there aren’t any, come up with your own. Consider taking a practice run or having a drill. At the end of the day, none of us knows when we will be forced to evacuate in order to escape an immediate and life-threatening event. When that happens, we may not have time to think or guess. Consequently, knowing about escape options now can help us to make the right choices later.
How prepared are you?